I have been a cop for over a decade and during my career I have made thousands of traffic stops and written hundreds of tickets. I know what I am talking about. Everyone hates getting stopped by the police. It’s a nerve-wracking experience that could end up costing you a lot of money and time.
Below, I have outlined seven basic rules you should follow when the blue and red lights start flashing behind you. Will these work every single time? Hell, no! No system is perfect, and some cops are jerks and sometimes you deserve your ticket, but if you follow these pointers, you’ll greatly increase your chance of getting off with just a warning.
7. Obey the law.
This one is pretty obvious, right? If you’re feeling the urge to drive 90 miles per hour through a school zone, you’re probably going to get a well-deserved reminder to not do that again. Driving with canceled registration, on a suspended license, with a bag of meth in your car is probably not a good idea, either. Cops aren’t allowed to stop you without at least having reasonable suspicion you’re doing something wrong. Don’t do anything wrong, you won’t get stopped.
Knowing the rules helps.
6. Make the cop feel safe.
We’ve all seen the videos where cops stopped on the side of the road are side-swiped or rear-ended by some jackass who is not paying attention. If you pull into a parking lot or way off the shoulder and it makes it safer for the cop, he’s going to notice, and appreciate it. If it takes a minute to find a place to stop, turn on your emergency flashers and when the cop makes contact, explain why you did what you did.
We’ve also seen the dash-cam video of someone trying to murder an officer. If it’s dark out, turn on your interior lights and keep your hands on the wheel. A traffic stop for you sucks because the damn cops might write you a ticket. For the cop, though, a traffic stop is a complete unknown. It could be some coked-up MS-13 John Dillinger wanna-be looking for a fight in the car, he doesn’t know. Anything you can do to put the cop at ease will be in your favor.
5. Have all your stuff ready and in order.
Waiting 15 minutes in the hot sun or pouring rain while watching someone paw through the glove box looking for an expired insurance card is going to make anyone grouchy, and you might get a coupon just for P.O.P. (Pissing Off the Police). Keep all your stuff above the driver’s visor.
4. Fess up.
Honesty is really the best policy. Cops hear the most outrageous lies all day long, so someone being completely honest goes a long way for a cop. A friend of mine was stopped for speeding in a 55 mph zone by a Georgia State Trooper once, and those guys are not known for their leniency. Trooper walks up to the car and asks “Well, Mr. Mario Andretti, do have any idea how fast you were going?” to which my friend responded “No sir, I don’t. My speedometer only goes up to 85.” 30 over and he went away with a warning!
I routinely give drivers breaks for honesty. Lying, on the other hand, pisses me off and you’ll probably get a coupon.
3. No crying.
Look, gals, turning on the waterworks might make your boyfriend feel bad for forgetting your birthday, but it doesn’t work on cops. We don’t care that you’re upset or scared and it’s a cheap tactic we can see right through that will usually result in you actually getting a ticket. No showing cleavage, either.
2. Not a single fucking word about doughnuts.
This one is more self-explanatory than #7.
1. Don’t be a douche.
Be polite and don’t get pissed off. The cop is just doing what you’re paying him to do and the vast majority of traffic stops don’t end in citations anyway. But if you’re a hothead, being an asshole can turn a minor inconvenience into a costly nightmare. If the first words out of your mouth are “what the fuck did you stop me for, pig?” You should expect to get as many citations for whatever violations the cop can find. Don’t ever tell a cop “I’ll have your job” or “you’ll hear from my lawyer.” First, you can have his job; Departments all over are hiring. Do you really want to deal with jackasses like yourself all day? Second, he’s dealt with lawyers his whole career and they don’t scare him. And if you give him that stupid old line about “Shouldn’t you be out catching real criminals?” he might just try to explain how Timothy McVeigh and other fugitives have been caught for minor traffic violations. For cops, traffic stops are just a useful way to make contact with the unknown driver.
Also under the “don’t be a douche” policy is maintaining a decent driving record. Think of traffic citations as “reminders to drive safely." If you’re not learning your lesson and your driving history is a mile long, don’t expect much sympathy.
Now, it’s no secret that Some Cops Suck and would write their own mother a ticket. You’re never going to win with those sorts, but following these simple rules is going to help you out, especially if you take the case to court. That said, even the most laid back cop has a book of citations and if you treat him like shit, expect to be treated like shit in return. You’re not always going to be able to talk yourself out of a ticket, but you can damn sure talk your way into one.
Speeding ticket pic via Shutterstock