Today’s guest blog post comes courtesy of New York traffic and DUI attorney Zev Goldstein, with some tips on how to behave if you get pulled over.
It has happened to us all. The dreaded lights flash in your mirror, accompanied by the mournful wailing of the siren. There’s simply no way around it: getting pulled over by a police officer is probably trouble. A visit from an officer on the road usually means a stern warning about your driving at the very least, and more often a ticket or worse. Getting pulled over can be an extremely stressful situation with often undesirable outcomes, but conducting yourself properly through the process goes a long way toward minimizing the imminent headache.
When an officer approaches your vehicle, sit calmly with your windows rolled up until the officer requests otherwise. When he does, speak in a polite and respectful tone, never rude or sarcastic. Police officers are human beings first and are more likely to work with you if they find you an agreeable person. Showing disrespect to a police officer will cause him to apply the full extent of the law as it applies to your violation, and is a separate crime in and of itself in some cases.
Resist the urge to argue with him about your guilt or innocence, as he has already decided you are in violation of a traffic law when he pulled you over. Loudly arguing your point only hurts your chances at leniency and could result in more severe charges and heavy fines. Instead, be contrite. Apologize for your error and ask to be let off with a warning. The worst he can say is “no,” and it certainly never hurts to try.
It is possible to talk a police officer into assessing you a lesser charge or recording a lower speed to save you money in fines if you display sincere regret and respect during your interaction, but don’t be pushy about it or your attempt will probably backfire. If you decide to try appealing to an officer’s mercy, be sure to do it as soon as possible while the officer is still standing outside your car window. Once the officer returns to his squad car, your ticket is likely being written and it’s too late.
There are always cases where an officer decides to be strict or your offense is simply too severe to let go with a warning. In this scenario, it is best to contact an attorney instead of trying to convince the police officer any further. A traffic court attorney can eventually have your charges reduced or dropped altogether while bickering with a patrolman typically will earn you nothing but problems. Their services usually do not come free, but traffic court attorneys can even have sanctions against your driving record such as points or suspensions lifted to make it as if the incident never happened.
Remember, when an officer pulls you over, no matter who is at fault, he has the right to handle it at his discretion. Recognizing this and responding accordingly could help you avoid more serious consequences. Of course, the best way to avoid issues with traffic police is to drive carefully and responsibly, but when all else fails, there is certainly a right and wrong way to do things.