Monday, November 3, 2008

How to get out of a ticket

People are always asking me what they can do or say to get out of a ticket once they get pulled over.

Of course my first response is: "Don't get pulled over." Duh. it's really a no-brainer, especially when you figure out how many cars are out there on the road with you. You've typically got to put some effort in to get that darn traffic cop to notice you and want to stop you instead of any of those other cars. Many people manage to go years or even decades without doing this, but if you're one of those folks who just had to get that cop's attention, and now you're siting on the shoulder and the red and blue lights are flashing behind you, there's a better than average chance that the decision to ticket or warn you has already been made. But just in case there's still some leeway that you're eligible for, here's how you can maximize your chances of going away with just a warning:

1. Pull over when the lights come on. Don't make me follow you for a mile and then act surprised and claim that you thought I was trying to pull some other car over. If I'd wanted another car, I'd have been behind another car. But I was behind you and that's because I wanted you.

2. Pull way over onto the shoulder, so that I don't have to stand in a traffic lane to talk to you. Show some basic courtesy to me and I'm much more likely to give you some back when I decide whether you need a ticker or just a warning.

3. Roll your window down, turn your engine off, and put your hands on the steering wheel where I can see them. This tells me that I can safely approach without fear of you trying to rabbit away or suddenly producing a weapon. I usually appreciate that, and most of my peers do, too.

4. Turn the radio off before I get up to your window. If I have to actually tell you this, you're not getting out of the ticket.

5. Put out the cigarette that you're puffing on. Smoke offends me and it masks the smell of alcohol and weed, which is why most cigarettes are lit the second I turn my lights on. If you just lit that, you're coming out of the car and a K-9 unit will be arriving shortly. Meanwhile I intend to write as many tickets as it takes to give that unit time to respond.

6. Hang up the cell phone. You and I have business which is more important than any conversation you might be having there. You continuing your conversation as I stand there next to your window is going to be taken as either a deliberate insult or an attempt by you to play a head game. Also, whoever is on the phone is not part of this and doesn't need to listen in and/or offer you advice as you and I talk. If I have to tell you to hang it up, your ticket will be forthcoming shortly.

7. If your license is suspended and surrendered, do not insult my intelligence by pretending to look for it then stating "I have a license, it's just not with me." And when I ask you if your license is suspended, do not deny it. I'm going to find out in a minute anyway, and if you tell me before I go out with it over the radio, maybe we can work something out.

8. When I ask for the paperwork for the car, don't tell me it's not your car and you don't know the name of your friend that you got it from. Like the drivers' license question above, I'm going to figure the truth out in a few minutes anyway.

9. When I ask you how fast you were going, do not tell me that you were doing the speed limit. I have radar, laser and a calibrated speedometer. I KNOW how fast you were going. My asking you is a test of your honesty. Lie and you fail.

10. Don't try to BS me about who you know on my job. Believe me, if you drop a name, I will check with that person, unless of course you drop MY name. Yes, an idiot once told me that he was very good friends with me. Turned out that he knew my name from a prior encounter and didn't remember my face or bother to read my name tag before tossing my name out as one of his best friends. (He got a ticket.) If you do have a friend or relative on my job, just smile and take the ticket and call your friend/relative when you get home and ask them to talk to me. If they like you, they will. And if you weren't a jerk to me or a serious offender, I'll probably pull it as a favor to my co-worker. But that name-dropping on the roadside? No.

11. Don't try to argue with me about why I stopped you. If I wasn't positive, I wouldn't have stopped you and I'm not going to change my mind just because you say "I didn't do that!" It's not my job to argue with you. There is a person that you can argue with, and that's the judge in traffic court. Take your arguement there if you like. I really don't mind, especially as I get paid time and a half to show up. Just remember that if you mouth off on the roadside, you may forget about it by the time the court date comes up but I won't because I'll have written it down. And judges love to hear that trash-talk read in court.

12. Demanding my name and badge number doesn't intimidate me. I don't fear your complaints because I do my job correctly and by the book and my supervisors know it. But if you start out the conversation by demanding those, rest assured that I will oblige and write them both down for you...on at least one ticket.

In sum, I'm not out there just to mess with you and I didn't single you out for a traffic stop just because I wanted to harrass you personally. I have a job to do, and if you make it easy for me to do it, I'm much more likely to just kick you loose with a warning in cases where it's an option than I am if you decide to throw an attitude at me or go out of your way to show me disrespect. If you do decide to be an ass, I'm not going to hold it against you and come down harder on you, but by the same token, you can sure forget about the possibility of me cutting you any slack. It's really up to you to decide how it's going to go. Make the most of the opportunity.


Aaron said...

Certainly good advice, and most of it is just basic common courtesy that should be easy enough for anyone to follow.

Amazing how many people can't figure it out.

Anonymous said...

This stuff seems like good advice but, It DOESN'T WORK! There are more and more dirty cops out there, I got pulled over 3 times in one week for doing 3 to 5 MPH over on lesser traveled roads by cops sitting without thier lights on being all sneaky. I had nothing to say other than answering thier questions, I'm 18 years old and not once had i gotten a warning, ALL D*CKS! 200$+ down the drain THANKS U.S. GOVERNMENT!

Officer Krupke said...

Well Mike, it would seem to me that your attitude sucks, and that probably had something to do with you not getting any slack, along with your age. Most of us don't cut much slack to kids because we figure that if you're driving badly at that age, you need a wake-up call. And many of us--me included--got those same "wake up calls" when we were your age.

I will also correct you on the "being sneaky" part. It's not as if we have to sit there with our lights on and advertise our presence. And you can always avoid being pulled over by driving the speed limit and not doing stuff that attracts our attention.

And lastly, I have to seriously doubt that you were stopped and ticketed three times for going less than 5 miles over the speed limit. That's not how most of us do business and there's either stuff that you're not telling us or else you were a total tool. My suggestion to you would be to start driving right while you still have a license.

And FWIW, the US Government has nothing to do with state or local police officers giving you tickets for bad driving.

Thomas said...

In my experience this does not work.