Steve Mermelstein recently wrote an article on How To Get Out Of A Speeding Ticket (featuring a video from VideoJug) which lists some pretty good ways to avoid paying a speeding ticket… Here are a few of the items from Steve’s list that I’ve found particularly helpful, and some additional ideas of my own. Please note that the contents of this and Steve’s post are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Neither of us are lawyers (we don’t even play one on TV!), and we do not give legal advice. If you have legal questions please consult a licensed attorney.
- Say as little as possible: The less you say, the less that can be used against you.
- Be respectful: Refer to the officer as “Sir” or “Ma’am” or “Officer.”
- Don’t admit guilt: Police officers frequently ask, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” so they can add a note to the citation that you admitted that you knew you were breaking the law. A simple “No Sir/Ma’am/Officer” will suffice. DO NOT follow it up with a leading question like, “Was I speeding?”
- Don’t be memorable: If the officer can’t particularly remember you or what you said, if the case goes to court, the Judge won’t be told anything that wasn’t in the police report, but that the officer could have remembered.
- Don’t argue: If you disagree with the officer simply say, “No, Officer” or “I respectfully disagree Officer.” Even better: don’t disagree. Only answer questions that are asked, don’t volunteer information. Being polite will help you here.
- Don’t say you’ll see them in court: Don’t even ask about or mention court in any way. You have the right to challenge the citation in court, they know this, don’t remind them or rub it in their face. In some states police officers aren’t paid to appear in traffic court to testify for minor infractions or speeding tickets. If you stayed quiet, were respectful, and didn’t antagonize the officer by lying or arguing they might not show up and the ticket will automatically be thrown out (you have a Constitutional right face and question your accuser).
- Request a new date: If you do get a citation and decide to challenge it in court, find out the process/procedure for requesting your hearing be rescheduled. In most cases the court will try and schedule all of the officer’s cases on one day. Once you have your court date request an extension (or a new date). Doing so may reduce the likelihood that the officer will be present in court that day, which, again, may result in having your ticket thrown out (see above).
- The best way: The best way to avoid getting a citation is to not break the law in the first place. Whether or not you agree with the law (or even if you’re aware of any given law) that’s still the law. Be safe, be polite, be observant, be courteous, and above all be safe! (Did I mention that you should be safe?)
- Have your papers handy: Have your vehicle registration and current proof of insurance in an envelope that’s readily accessible (right on-top my your glove box works best for me). You don’t want to have to go digging for them when the officer comes to your window.
- Prepare your car: Make sure you pull over (usually to the right-side of the road) as far as you can. A wheel off the paved shoulder is usually a good idea. This allows the officer more room out of traffic if they approach you on the driver’s side. Make sure, however, that you allow enough room on the passenger side to allow the officer to approach over there if that’s how they do it in their neck of the woods. As soon as you’re pulled over, turn off your lights, turn off your car, and roll down your driver’s-side window. Your seatbelt should be buckled.
- Have everything ready: Have your driver’s licence (and concealed firearm permit, if applicable), and your envelope with insurance and registration in-hand and ready to show the officer.
- Your hands: This is probably the most important tip!! Once you’ve prepared your vehicle and have your papers and license(s) in-hand, put your hands on the steering wheel at 11 and 1 o’clock. KEEP THEM THERE! This shows the officer that you’re not hiding anything and sub-consciously communicates that you’re not a threat to them. When the officer asks for your licence and registration, hand him your license first (you should already have it in-hand) and then the registration/insurance envelope. As soon as you’ve done so PUT YOUR HANDS BACK ON THE WHEEL!
- Your sidearm: if you can legally carry a firearm (concealed or not) you may want to disclose this to the officer. In Utah, for example, it is recommended that Concealed Firearm Permit holders hand the officer their Utah Concealed Firearm Permit along with their driver’s license. Tell the officer your name and the pertinent details: “My name is John Public; I have a Utah Concealed Firearm Permit; my firearm is holstered on my right hip.” ALL THE WHILE YOUR HANDS SHOULD BE ON THE STEERING WHEEL!!! If the officer is comfortable with the situation they may leave you without obtaining your firearm, if they are not (or if policy dictates otherwise) they may ask for it. FOLLOW THEIR INSTRUCTIONS and follow safe firearm handling guidelines. If there is not a round in the chamber inform them (in Utah this is “legally unloaded”); if there is round in the chamber tell them that there is a round in the chamber (rather than “it’s loaded”). Since the legal definition of “loaded” varies from state to state, use the “round in the chamber” versus “no round in the chamber” wording to avoid confusion.
- RADAR/LIDAR Detectors: A radar or laser detector may or may not be legal where you live. If they are legal and you choose to use one, be prepared to answer questions about why you have one. Questions might include “Do you plan on speeding?”, “Do you speed often?”, “Does that thing get you out of many tickets?” My reply (which is an honest one) is “sometimes I get caught up in the flow of traffic and don’t realize that I may be speeding, so it’s a nice reminder to check my speed whenever it beeps” or something to that effect.
- Your appearance/your car’s appearance: While “profiling” is a hot topic among civil libertarians and the ACLU, your appearance and that of your car may send an unintentional message to the officer (whether conscious or not). If you have a super-modified car, a big spoiler, a large/loud tailpipe, racing rims, lowered chassis, racing marks, etc. that sends the message that you build your car for speed, and by association for speeding. Similarly, if you look like a felon, chances are you’ll be treated like one. If you look professional and keep your vehicle modifications to a minimum, it’s more likely that you won’t have preconceived stereotypes working against you.
- Keep a clean driving record/criminal record: people without a record of breaking the law are less likely to be ticketed. People who consistently break the law don’t get much leniency or sympathy.
- If they ask you what they should do: This type of question is usually asked to find out what kind of person you are. Are you the kind that tries to wiggle your way out of everything? Do you think the law doesn’t apply to you? Do you think the law is wrong? Once I was driving home a different way from my normal route and I apparently missed a speed-limit change. The officer asked me if I realized I was speeding, to which I replied no, and that this wasn’t the road that I normally
ook to get home. The officer asked “Should I write you a ticket for this?” I replied (without emotion) “If I was speeding, yeah, you probably should.” He agreed that he should, but since my record was clean and he didn’t think I broke the law intentionally that he’d let me go with a warning. I thanked him, graciously, and we went our separate ways.
Have you gotten out of tickets? Beat one in court? What happened and what did you do? Please comment!