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What 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.


 
 

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