Although we’ve already discussed five ways to avoid a traffic ticket, we thought we’d put a little tweak on the topic and talk about what you should do if you notice the red and blue lights in your rearview mirror. Assuming you are already in the process of getting pulled over, here are five things you can do to put yourself in the best position to beat a traffic citation.
1. Pull Over Quickly and Safely – This one might sound like common sense, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds. There’s a very good chance you’ll be driving in the left lane on the highway when the officer comes up behind you, so you’ll need to move over to the far right lane unless there is ample room on the left side of the highway. When moving over, put your blinker on and make sure you’re not a danger to others on the road. Once you’re on the shoulder, put your hazard lights on and wait for the officer.
2. Stay Cool and Collected – It might be easy to start freaking out, but that will only make the situation worse. Getting fidgety or nervous will make it look like you are hiding something, and for all you know the officer may be stopping you because he noticed a brake light was out. Roll down the window and make eye contact with the officer when speaking.
3. Keep Your Hands in Plain Sight – You might think you’re helping by reaching into your glove box or under your seat to grab your proof of insurance, but wait until the officer directs you to retrieve it. If he sees you fiddling with the glove compartment, he may think you’re stashing drugs, or worse, reaching for a weapon. If you need to reach for some information, wait until the officer is at your window, and ask for permission to retrieve the item from its location.
4. Be Polite – We covered this topic on the previous blog post, but it’s extremely important for two reasons. First, if the cop hasn’t made up his mind about whether or not to give you a ticket, being courteous can help put you in a favorable light. Also, if you plan on contesting any ticket, you’ll want to get through the interaction as quickly and non-memorably as possible. When contesting the ticket in court, the officer will need to remember key details about the case, and if you don’t do anything to stand out, he may have a difficult time recalling the specific incident.
5. Sign Your Ticket – Following the last point, if the officer asks you to sign the ticket, go ahead and sign it. Your signature only acknowledges that you received a ticket, it is not an admission of guilt. You can cause more trouble for yourself by being stubborn and refusing to sign the ticket, so throw your John Hancock on the ticket and you’ll be on your way in no time.
Traffic Attorney Sean Sullivan comments
These are all very good points that drivers would do well to keep in mind, especially the last point that by signing the ticket you are not admitting guilt.
People need to remember that there is a burden of proof the state must reach in order to prove that you are actually guilty of the offense of speeding. The ticket is simply an allegation by the police officer that you were speeding. This does not necessarily mean you are guilty of speeding. They still have to prove you are guilty of the offense in court.
Accept the ticket and contact an experienced criminal traffic lawyer to see what can be done about the ticket. You don’t want to argue with the officer and have a simple speeding ticket turn into resisting or assault of a police officer, which is a much more serious offense.
Related source: Chicago Tribune