You. Are. Busted. Maybe. Regardless, the blue and reds have caught up with you and now you’re freaking out. I got you. We’ve all been there. It’s nerve-wracking, to say the least. Don’t worry, though, this article is all about helping you out. We can get through this.
Take a deep breath. I’ll be your guru this evening. So, buckle up, and let’s go through the steps. Now, my goal with this article is to give you every secret to not getting a ticket. But, I want to jump to the last step first. You’ve got tried all your magic and couldn’t sweet-talk yourself out of a ticket. What do you do? Check out Off the Record! I recently successfully used them!
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Be Polite – Do Unto Others
First, let’s go over how to prepare for the interaction. As you’re looking for a place to pull over, keep the following in mind, starting with the golden rule. This is the number one thing. If you remember nothing else, remember this. When a cop pulls you over, being polite can save your butt.
You’ll probably be pissed or scared or nervous as hell and having a hard time speaking. Whatever the case, being a jerk will only make things worse. Yes, officer. No, officer. Thank you, officer. It might sound badass in your head to call them a pig and laugh, but that just means they’ll find a way to punish you for something.
There are millions of dumb laws on the books they can use to pass the time (we made a video on some of the worst ones). You do not want to give them an excuse to do it. Plus, if you’re polite and, especially if you treat them like a person, they’re more likely to treat you like a person and maybe let you off the hook. I’m not saying it’s a guarantee, and there are some factors that really matter in the United States that we won’t be covering, but acting like a jerk will make it worse no matter what.
Speaking of being polite, always make sure to announce your intentions.
Record the Interaction – Video Star
You have the legal right to record your interaction, and you should. As soon as you hear the sirens, you should hit the record button on your phone. I’m sure you’ve seen it all over, how a cell phone video saved someone’s butt when Johnny Law got a little too rough. And (this is important) make sure to tell the officer what’s going on. Tell him you’re recording and make sure he can see what you’re doing.
You do not want to be someone that reaches for their cell phone when the officer walks up to the car. If they don’t know what you’re doing, pulling a cell phone out of your pocket looks a lot like, well, something a lot worse. You definitely don’t want to be in that situation.
So, speak up. Say, “Officer, it’s my right to record this interaction and I would like to make you aware of my cell phone, which is currently recording video.” That’s all you have to do. And remember to be polite. And don’t say too much because you absolutely have the right to remain silent.
Be Quiet – Anything You Say or Do
Here’s a list of things you need to tell the cops: your name, your address, and that’s it. End of list. How else you go about it is up to you and will largely depend on the situation. If you really have screwed up, and think you’re about to get more than a stern talking to, just shut up about it. You can say, “Am I under arrest? I don’t feel comfortable saying anything without talking to my lawyer.”
The reason I’m telling you this stuff before you even stop is that you’ll probably need to really focus on it and be prepared. It’s not completely cut and dry. You don’t want to volunteer any information, but you still want to be polite and honest. If you did do something and they know it, let them say it.
Hell, even if you didn’t screw up, it’s better for you to not say anything about your actions. “Yes, this is my car. Here is my license. Here is the insurance. I will be recording this interaction.” Then, if you absolutely have to, a few yeses and nos.
Now that we’ve covered all the stuff you need to know to prepare for being pulled over, let’s talk about what happens when you actually get pulled over. First, find a safe space to stop.
Pull Over – When Safe
It’s a little bit of a balancing act. You’ll want to find a place where there is room to safely slow down and stop, where there’s enough room for both you, the police officer’s car, and space to stand next to your car. But, you also want to do so as quickly as possible. So, don’t wait for the perfect spot; look for a spot that’s good enough.
If you’re on a highway, an offramp is a good choice. If you’re on a road without a shoulder, you may have to simply slow down. But, put your hazards on and let the police car guide you to a spot they feel comfortable.
Once you stop, it’s all about making every intention clear. Start by making it safe to approach your vehicle.
Turn Off the Car – And Turn On the Light
Turn the engine off and turn the interior lights on, and roll down the window. Also, if you haven’t yet, start your phone recording. Make sure to do everything smoothly. Be controlled, not slow. Don’t make it feel like you’re wasting their time. But, if you’re deliberate about the things you are doing, then the officer will know what’s going on as they approach.
After the window is down, leave your hands on top of the steering wheel and don’t move or do anything unless asked. Usually, the officer will start by asking you for your name. That’s one of the things you have to tell them, And then, be prepared to hand over your license and registration.
License and Registration – You Do Own the Car, Right?
Again, be clear about your inventions, reach for your glovebox (or your phone if you’re a modern person with your insurance information in an email). Be sure to disclose anything that might worry an officer. If you have a multitool, a knife, or especially something like a firearm, tell the officer before he sees it.
As you may have noticed, most everything you do is about keeping the officer calm, and suddenly seeing a gun is not a good way to keep people calm. Then, show the officer your information. They’re allowed to ask for your license, registration, and, in most states, your insurance. It’s important to know what they can and can’t do, which we’ll cover quickly.
Your Rights – And Your Lefts
Now, I’m not a lawyer and I don’t claim to be a lawyer, so this isn’t legal advice. This is simply what I understand from years of research and bad decisions. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to leave if you are not being arrested. Your passenger has the same rights that you do as a driver. And you have the right to speak to a lawyer.
Speaking of lawyers, when an officer gives you a ticket, the best thing you can do right now is sign the ticket then talk to a lawyer and fight it later. Don’t fight it on the spot; that will just make things worse. Instead, sign in, then get in contact with our Off the Record.
While we are talking about rights, let’s dispel a common myth. Police do not need a warrant to search your vehicle, but they will ask for your consent.
Consent – It’s Important
Here’s the important bit. You can say no if an officer asks to search your vehicle or your person. What an officer needs is a reason to search, and you don’t have to give them one. You don’t need to give them permission, you should force them to have a reason. This ties back into that whole right-to-remain-silent thing. You always have the right to not incriminate yourself, and you certainly don’t have to make it easy for them to find something.
Be polite and politely decline their offer to search your vehicle. Just make sure you don’t cross the line between declining their offer and actively resisting arrest. Do. Not. Resist.
Resistance Is Futile – No Joke
You may not have committed any crime when you get pulled over. It might be a mistake or you might get a warning. Chances are good that you won’t be under arrest. And, while you may get a ticket, that’s something you can fight later.
But, if you run or try to fight the officer, you just committed a serious crime and you’re looking at jail. Do not pass go and do not collect $200. Resisting arrest is bad for your health, even if you believe you’re in the right. Instead, stay silent, talk to a lawyer later, and be respectful. You’ll get through it.
In the End – Deep Breaths
Chances are, whether you had to sign a ticket or not, you’ll be spending some time alone as the officer runs your license and information. When they have what they need, they’ll give you your documents back and give you instructions. Listen to them! What they tell you is what you need to know in order to take the next step, whether that’s calling our Off the Record, calling a lawyer, or calling a friend because they’re towing your car.
This is another reason it helps to record everything, that way you can reference it later. Assuming it’s a routine traffic stop, that’ll be it. You’ll have your ticket or your warning and the cop will pull away. Wait a few moments, collect yourself, take a deep breath, and let them get out of sight. Your emotions will probably be through the roof and those few moments of calming down are really important.