Getting pulled over isn’t much fun, but you don’t have dig yourself into an even deeper hole by saying the wrong thing. If you’re guilty of speeding, it’s likely that you will be ticketed, but keeping these tips in mind can keep you from getting into any more trouble and racking up a bigger fine.
- Respect the officer’s authority. The number one thing to remember when interacting with a police officer is that it is important to respect their authority. The police force is made up of men and women who regularly put themselves in danger serving and protecting the people around them, so it’s important to show respect for what they do by addressing them properly. Call them “officer,” “sir,” or “ma’am,” and don’t convey any irritation when interacting with them after being pulled over. You don’t want to come off rude and escalate the situation any further, plus being polite may even help you get off with just a warning.
- Be honest. Like anyone else, police officers don’t appreciate being lied to. They’re busy people and generally don’t enjoy having their time wasted with fabrication. When asked a question, answer honestly. The officer didn’t pull you over for personal reasons, so try to keep your own emotion from causing you to make a poor decision and lie. Cooperating with the officer will make the situation easier for both of you, so try to handle the situation cordially.
- Keep calm. It may not be the easiest thing to do in this situation, but being able to calm your nerves will allow you to think clearly and not overreact. The last thing you want when being pulled over is to lose control and panic, so stay calm and pull over to the side of the road as soon as you can safely do so. You may want to take a few deep breathes and take stock of the situation. It can be a little scary, yes, but you’ll get through it relatively unscathed if you keep calm.
- Don’t interrupt. Let’s revisit our first point one more time. When interacting with an officer, respect that they are the authority in the situation and don't interrupt them. Let him or her take the lead in the conversation and answer their questions when prompted. If you do disagree with the officer in some way and plan on contesting your ticket in court, it is better to hold your peace until that time and then make your case. Interrupting or protesting an officer while pulled over is likely to agitate them, so that best idea is to exercise courtesy and not make the situation any worse. Also, if you are going to contest the ticket, be sure not to incriminate yourself with an admission of guilt. Remember to keep track of details such as date, time, how fast you were going, and where you were pulled over if you do plan on contesting.
- Keep your hands where the officer can see them. While getting pulled over probably isn’t the most pleasant experience for you, traffic stops can actually be pretty dangerous for officers. In 2015, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reported that of all firearm-related fatalities that year, the second-highest number occurred during traffic stops. With this in mind, it’s not hard to imagine why an officer would become suspicious if you made any sudden movements prior to them approaching your vehicle or while they are speaking with you. To help set the officer at ease and allow the situation to move as smoothly as possible, keep your hands on the steering wheel until instructed to retrieve your license and registration.
It probably doesn’t rank very high on most people’s list of favorite things, but getting pulled over is not the end of the world. It does happen occasionally though, so it’s important that you know how to handle the situation and keep yourself out of any more trouble. If you follow these five tips next time you’re pulled over, you should be able to make it out still in one piece.
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