The red and blue lights flash in your rear view mirror. You hear sirens and your heart sinks. Youre being pulled over by the police. Immediately, you are remorseful for driving over the speed limit. You cant afford another point or two on your record, or the hike in your insurance premiums. What do you do to get out of the ticket?
Its estimated that over 100,000 people receive a speeding ticket a day in the United States. However, a NHTSA survey found that nearly 1 in 4 people got away with only a warning. Whats their secret? Hoping to avoid any future tickets, I asked this question of everyone Ive met whos ever gotten out of a ticket. On the flip side, Ive asked every police officer or Highway Patrol officer why some people got away with only a warning, while working as a Deputy District Attorney in Southern California. Based on my own personal survey, here are the top Dos and Donts of talking yourself out of a ticket.
Do Be Polite
Police officers work hard to protect you and your community, and they deserve a little respect. The least you can do is be polite when you are pulled over. Several officers Ive spoken to have let people go because the drivers were polite and respectful when pulled over.
Do Use Your Vulnerability
You may call it sexist or a reversion to the past, but sometimes it pays to be a woman when you are facing a ticket. My sister was 8 months pregnant when she was pulled over by a police officer for making an illegal turn. The officer took one look at her, and let her go with only a warning.
As for myself, after running several stop signs, I got away with only a warning by crying and telling the officer I was lost, and had no idea how to use my new GPS. The officer took pity on me and showed me how to get back to the highway. Officers may not intentionally know it, but even while writing tickets they are there to rescue damsels in distress.
Do Be Honest
Officers do a lot more than just give out tickets! They may only pull you over to determine whether youre a criminal or violated a law. A friend of mine was pulled over because an officer suspected him of driving erratically. When pulled over, my friend truthfully told the officer that he was only trying to get around a slow moving van. The officer let him go.
On another occasion, the same friend was pulled over for making an illegal left turn out of a night club parking lot. The officer asked him if he had been drinking. My friend truthfully replied that he had two beers earlier in the night. The officer conducted a quick field sobriety test on him the horizontal nystagmus test, and determined that he was not under the influence. The officer let my friend go with only a warning. Once an officer determines that you did not violate a crime, many will let you go with only a warning.
Do Be Humorous
One CHP Officer I knew previously let drivers go when the driver managed to stay positive and tell funny stories when pulled over. Humor worked for my brother-in-law who got away with only a warning when he admitted to the officer that he was speeding because he really needed to go to the bathroom. Staying positive and telling a joke may get you out of a dreaded ticket.
DONT Flash, Expose Yourself, or Proposition Officers For Sex
Come on ladies, youre not that kind of professional woman. You are a doctor, lawyer, CPA, small-business owner, or any other respectful professional woman. Act like one. Every police officer Ive met have had women expose themselves, flash them, or proposition them for sex. Not one has admitted, at least to me, that this has worked. Do not compromise your integrity to get out of a ticket. Its better to pay for the ticket than lose your sense of worth.
DONT Be Arrogant or Rude
You may have had years of education on the police officer and you may even be smarter than him. But this is not the time to insist that the officer call you Doctor, or tell the officer hes doing his job wrong because hes in violation of a Supreme Court case you learned in law school. Officers have told me that they will all of a sudden notice a broken tail light or overly tinted window when the driver becomes arrogant. So unless you want to pay a speeding and fix-it ticket, dont be arrogant.
DONT Name Drop
Many officers have told me that a lot of people theyve pulled over will ask them if they work with such and such officer on the force. Inevitably, the officer does not know this person, and even if the officer is best friends with the other officer, the reference will not get you out of the ticket. So unless youre the Police Chiefs daughter, chances are name dropping will not work. Its best to stay clear of name dropping. Officers are smart, and will see right through you.