Five Things to Do If You Get Pulled Over

Time for another segment of ‘Question of the day cause I ain’t got shit to write about’. Well I didn’t actually receive a question, but I’m sure that it’s a topic that my 8 subscribers may be interested in reading about.

Those of us who have been pulled over by the police while driving know that feeling of dread and doom that overcomes us upon hearing that siren or seeing the flashing red or blue lights of a police car in our rear view mirrors. For a moment, we hope and think that it’s the other guy who’s getting pulled over. We are in denial that it could be us until we quickly (hopefully) realize that the police car is not attempting to go around us and has taken a position directly behind us.

Here are five things you should do if the flashing red or blue lights are meant for you.

1. Don’t speed or run red lights at the beginning or end of the month. OK, if you got pulled over it’s a little late for this, but still you should know that getting pulled over at the beginning or the end of the month dramatically increases your odds of getting ‘banged’ (for the nerds who are reading this, getting ‘banged’ does not mean getting laid – it’s cop parlance for getting a ticket). As often as police departments may say that cops don’t have ‘ticket quotas’, the reality of the matter is that there is one. You won’t find it in any department manual, it may be unofficial, but trust me when I say it does exist. With that said, you have some cops that will try reach their ‘unoffical’ quota as quickly as possible at the start of the month and get it out of the way. Then you have the cops who procrastinate and wait until the end of the month to get their numbers.

Now I know what some of you may be thinking and that this may be misconstrued. I am not advocating the violation of vehicle and traffic laws during the rest of the month. We should always drive carefully and adhere to rules of the road. All I’m saying is that if you’re in the habit of rolling through stop signs instead of coming to a complete stop, don’t do it at beginning or at the end of the month.

2. Pull over as quickly and as safely as possible. And make sure, if possible, that your vehicle is not impeding the flow of traffic. If you have reason to believe that the individual trying to pull you over is not really a police officer, then I hope that you read my post on police impersonators.

3. Once you have safely pulled over, put the vehicle in ‘park’, roll down your window (especially if it’s tinted) and shut the ignition. Passengers in a vehicle with tinted windows should also roll down their windows. If it’s at night, turn on the interior lights and not just the front seat ones. Interior lights afford the officer better visibility into the vehicle, which can help him see that you’re not reaching under your seat for a weapon or something that could harm him.

4. Place your hands on the steering wheel. Passengers should also ensure that their hands are visible. And no, they don’t need to place them on top of their heads. On their laps would suffice. Remain in the vehicle unless otherwise instructed by the police officer.

5. Remain calm, be respectful and adhere to the police officer’s instructions.

Getting pulled over by the cops can be an extremely stressful situation, for both the motorist and the police officer. The motorist is worried about the cost of the ticket, points on their license, and an increase in their insurance premiums. At the same time, the cop is at a heightened level of alert, concerned about their own safety or that of their partners. Bad guys also drive cars.

Although the majority of car stops are uneventful and transpire without incident, it is still one of the most dangerous actions that police officers conduct everyday. According to data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, traffic incidents have been the top cause of death for police officers for 12th straight year. Not only can a cop be injured or killed by the mutts occupying the car he just pulled over, but he can also be seriously injured or killed by another motorist.

Obviously I can’t guarantee that following these tips will get you out of a ticket should you be pulled over. But speaking from my own experience in conducting hundreds of car stops during my career, a motorist that I pulled over who was concerned about my safety as well as their own and demonstrated such by doing the things that I have listed had a good shot at getting a break. That is if they didn’t have an attitude or tried to hand me their cell phones so that I could speak with their attorneys (yes, this happened) as if in some way that was going to get them out of a ticket. But that’s for my next piece on things not to do if you should get pulled over by the police.

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5 responses to “Five Things to Do If You Get Pulled Over

  1. Very informative, thanks. Does your advice change if the driver happens to have a kilo of heroine or dead body in his trunk (just asking; I’m almost positive my trunk’s never held either)? Also, you didn’t mention anything about bribes. What’s the best way to initiate that particular conversation? What’s an appropriate opening offer? This may be a good subject for a post of its own.

    • I’m afraid that if you have drugs or bodies in your trunk, you need more help than I can offer on a blog.

      As far as the bribe, just try asking the officer how much it will cost you to get out of the ticket. I’m sure he will kindly inform you of the current rate.

  2. Attempting to bribe may also get the officer ticked off at you, if he or she is honest. (And yes, there are many honest officers out there…)

    I’ve heard that saying, “I’m sorry,” often does more good than a bribe. Yep, people who actually admit they did wrong and promise not to do it again apparently can have fines lessened or done away with altogether.

    Whatever you do, don’t talk back, or make like you’re a big shot. That’s much more liable to end badly for you…

    Anyhow, good post. Hope people listen.

    • You’re right Ruth – saying “I’m sorry” politely and sincerely can go a long way.

      And I hope it was clear that I was being sarcastic about the bribery part. I would not actually recommend that tactic unless you are looking to wallpaper your living room with all the summonses you’ll be getting.

  3. 5 Reasons NOT to Agree to a Police Search
    Even if You Have Nothing to Hide:
    1. It’s your constitutional right.
    2. Refusing a search protects you if you end up in court.
    3. Saying “no” can prevent a search altogether.
    4. Searches waste time and damage property.
    5. You never know what they’ll find.

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