What are Some Tips for Your Next Traffic Ticket?
Being pulled over by the police is never an enjoyable experience. In recent times, traffic stops have turned violent or even deadly, resulting in injuries or death to the officer or to the motorist he or she stopped. There are always reports of individuals posing as police officers who stop unsuspecting motorists to attack or rob them. Now more than ever, it is important that drivers keep their safety in mind when they are pulled over.
For more information on traffic tickets in Arizona see the Arizona Department of Public Safety website.
Here’s how to accomplish this:
- When you see the officer’s lights, pull over to a safe location. If you pull over to the side of a road, pull as far off of the road as possible to reduce your risk and the officer’s risk of being struck by another vehicle. If it is late at night and you are on a congested street, try to find a well-lit parking lot or side street to stop.
- Roll down your window, keep your hands on the wheel and your interior light on when the officer approaches. Do not make sudden movements and keep your hands where the officer can see them. This enables the officer to feel safer when speaking with you and will diffuse a significant amount of the officer’s tension (resulting in a better experience for you). If you must reach for your license or insurance information, wait until the officer has made contact with you and asked for these documents. You can then tell the officer where the documents are located and ask if you can reach for them.
- Be polite and professional with the officer. You gain nothing by calling the officer names, cursing at him or her, or engaging in other noisy and disruptive behavior. The officer is more likely to ticket you if you do engage in this behavior than if you remain pleasant.
- You do not have to admit any fault. An officer may ask you if you know the reason he or she stopped you. You do not need to admit to any wrongdoing, and doing so may not provide you with many benefits. Indeed, you may admit to a violation that the officer did not even see or contemplate (you may think the officer pulled you over because you were speeding 30 miles over the limit when in fact the officer only noticed your taillight was out). You may remain silent during this part of your stop, or you may tell the officer you do not know the reason he or she decided to stop you.
- You do not even need to speak with the officer. Officers may try to engage you in conversation as a way of obtaining potentially incriminating information or evidence (such as an odor of alcohol on your breath). You may, if you so choose, decline to say anything at all to the officer. You must, however, still provide the officer with your driver’s license, insurance information, and registration documents if these are requested of you.
- Beware of “voluntary” encounters. This is becoming a frequently-seen tactic throughout the United States: the officer will hand you your ticket, tell you that you are free to go, and then seek to engage you in further conversation. If you choose to do so, the officer is hoping to ask you about other matters not related to the stop (such as drugs in your car, drinking and driving, etc.) that would justify a longer stop and detention. You are free to leave once the officer hands you your ticket and says you may go. You do not need to stay around and speak further with the officer, and you should seriously consider not doing so. Simply confirm with the officer that you are free to go and (if he or she says yes) leave the scene.