Here are a few basic tips you can employ when getting pulled over to minimize your chances of getting the yellow slip of death
A police officer’s job is dangerous. Anything you can do to reduce his stress and anxiety related to potentially being harmed will go a long way in earning his favor and potentially saving you from a hefty fine, increased insurance rates and 8 hours of hell at traffic school.
1. If indeed you are being pulled over, you should notice the flashing lights in your rearview mirror ASAP. Cops get annoyed when they have to tail you for ages until you get the hint that you’ve done something wrong. If you’re not sure if you are being pulled over, just start changing lanes to the right and see if he follows. If he has to yell at you over the megaphone to pull over, you’re off to a bad start.
2. Unless the officer instructs you otherwise, don’t panic and pull over immediately. Look for the nearest safe place to park where the officer will not be in danger of being run over by traffic, i.e. a gas station or parking lot. If you are pulled over on the freeway, proceed to the next exit ramp and do the same.
3. As soon as you park and are waiting for the officer to walk up to your vehicle, get your license, registration and proof of insurance ready before he reaches you. The officer does not want to wait while you fumble around your glovebox looking for your documents.
4. Turn off the car, remove the keys from the ignition and place them on the dash where the officer can clearly see. This assuages any fears that you may try to flee during your encounter.
4a. If it’s during the evening, turn on the interior lights so the officer can clearly see everything inside the vehicle.
5. Put both hands on the steering wheel and leave them there. This will assuage any fears that you have a concealed weapon.
6. Respond politely to the officer’s inquiries and use ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’ when addressing the officer.
7. The most common offense if I’m not mistaken is speeding. Generally the officer will begin his conversation with you by stating, ‘Do you know how fast you were going?’ Even if you were speeding, DO NOT ADMIT GUILT. Politely respond with, “I’m not sure officer, I wasn’t looking at my speedometer but was keeping my eyes on the road. I felt given the conditions and flow of traffic that my speed was justified.”
If you follow these steps, there’s a good chance the officer will find you in his favor and possibly let you off with a warning. There are no guarantees, but if you still get written up, you can always do a Trial by Declaration.
About the Author: Daniel Kim is a graduate of Coventry University’s Automotive Journalism Master’s program. He has worked at Ferrari North Europe, Evo magazine, Autocar and Formula Drift.