should be done When Stopped
No matter how hard you try
to avoid a ticket, one of these days the police will get you. Youíre
going to look in your rearview mirror, youíre going to see the flashing
lights, and what you do next could be the deciding factor as to whether
or not you get a ticket. You should pull over to the side of the road as
far as possible, allowing the officer to approach your vehicle after he
pulls up behind you. Try not to do anything that out of the ordinary and
donít make your appearance before the officer memorable so that, if any
specific details are asked in court later, heíll have no idea and it
will show him up in front of the judge. Once your car is stationary at
the side of the road shut the engine off, roll your window down, and
keep both hands on the wheel. DO NOT remove your seatbelt at this time.
If youíre not wearing your belt, itís too late to put it on now, so
donít even bother
If itís during the evening or darkness hours, make sure that you have
your flashing lights on. Relax, keep calm, and wait for the officer to
approach your vehicle. If you get upset now, youíll bring undue
attention to yourself, which is the last thing you want to do.
Generally, an officer will ask you one of two questions. Itís either,
ďDo you know how fast you were going?Ē, to which your response should be
one of the following: ďNo, Iím not really sureĒ, ďI think I was doing
the speed limitĒ or ďI know I wasnít speeding, I looked at my
speedometer right before you stopped meĒ. The other question that you
may be asked is, ďDo you know why you were stopped?Ē and your response
to that should be ďNo Officer, I donítĒ. The most important rule to
remember is DO NOT ADMIT ANYTHING. Your constitutional rights allow you
to remain silent, but the officer doesnít have to let you know that. If
you tell the officer you were doing about 62 or 63 when you knew that
you were in a 50 mph zone, youíve admitted your guilt.
When the officer requests your credentials such as driver license,
insurance, and registration, tell him where they are located in the car
and ask for permission to retrieve them before going for them. This will
relieve the officerís suspicion that there may be a concealed weapon in
the car. If he decides that he wants to search your vehicle, do not
agree to this search under any circumstances. If he threatens to get a
search warrant, tell him to go and get one. He cannot search your
vehicle without it. He must have probable cause to search your vehicle.
If he can smell marijuana or alcohol, he has probable cause, and at this
moment in time, those things are more important to you than the speeding
ticket youíre about to get. Now is not the time to try to argue with the
officer, or see if you can beat the ticket. Give him as little as
possible to remember you by; besides, heís heard all the excuses
hundreds of times before. Once he starts writing that ticket, youíre
going to get it, period. Thereís no turning back for the officer or for
you. He canít void it and say he made a mistake. He has to write it. And
itís yours, no matter what.
While the officer is writing your ticket back at his vehicle, look over
your surroundings and make notes of as much data as you possibly can.
Small details can be very important. Some of the information that you
should be looking for is the type of vehicle, the license plate, and the
unit number of the police car that stopped you. Note the exact location
of where you were stopped, and the distance between that place and the
point where the violation occurred.
Write down the weather conditions. Cloud cover, rain, sunshine, snow,
whatever it may be. Write down a list of everyone whoís traveling in
your vehicle and ask them to remain quiet during the entire time that
you are with the officer, unless he asked them a question. Write down
the color and the type of clothing that you are wearing. Make note of
any noticeable traits of your vehicle. The color of the paint, dents,
aluminum wheels, hubcaps, any small details which would be difficult for
the officer to remember later. Make sure you try to remember everything
the officer says during the traffic stop. If he has to talk on his
radio, or direct another driver during the stop, make a note of that.
Often the person whoís writing the ticket is not the one who is using
the radar unit. Heís effectively the chase car. Find out if heís the one
because itís critica to your case that you know if the officer was the
one using the radar unit. Observe the traffic in the area and remember
what the traffic was like when you were pulled over. Try to remember
everything about the cars in your area during your stop.
Once the officer has written your citation he will ask you to sign it.
By signing you are merely acknowledging receipt of the citation. At that
point in time, ask the officer if you can have your court appearance
moved to the county seat. If he declines, make him indicate on the back
of the ticket that he refused to allow you this consideration. If he
does not want to indicate that on the back of the ticket, donít worry,
just make a note of it yourself in your notes. It may be important later
on. Tell the officer after you have signed the citation that you would
like to see the readout on the radar. Heís not really required to do
this for you because it would impact on your safety. They donít want to
see you run down by another motorist on your way to the police car. If
he does allow you to see the radar, donít make any comments at all. Just
make a note of who manufactured the unit or a model number. At this
point in time, donít mention the calibration fork. The reasons for this
will be explained later, but donít ask to see it. If the officer knows
that you are aware of the calibration fork, it would tell him that you
know a bit more about the equipment heís using, and heíll remember you
in court. Thatís not going to help your case further down the road.
After the officer returns to his patrol car, stay for another one or two
minutes and make any other notes that occur to you at the time. The
officer will usually make notes on the back of the ticket so that he can
recall them later in court. Donít stay too long at the scene; that will
be memorable to the officer and you donít want him to remember any
aspects of this traffic stop. Youíve got plenty of time to prepare your
case between now and the time youíre set to appear in court. All the
information is going to be available to you twenty four hours a day.
When you leave the scene, pull away safely. Donít spin your tires, donít
send rocks up into the air. Go out with the confidence that you probably
wonít see the officer again.
Thereís also the extreme possibility that the next time you see the
officer, heís going to be in a courtroom, under oath, answering your
questions. If you follow the directions previously noted, you are just
going to be another face in the crowd out of the hundreds of citations
he wrote in the past month. Thereís a good chance that he wonít remember
you, and he certainly wonít remember what color shirt you had on, or
what the weather was like.