How To Best Respond To An American Traffic Cop (And Likely Get Out of A Ticket)

Donald Pennington By Donald Pennington, 21st Nov 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Tips>Driving

Okay, you're pulled over. That's embarrassing enough, as it is. As the officer comes out of his/her vehicle, do you really find the approach of pitching a fit will get you out of a ticket?

There you are; pulled over

Unless you're using Progressive insurance's comparison/driver tracking thingy, it'll be your word against the radar gun, if you try arguing or pitching a fit at the officer as they have you pulled over for any manner of violation from speeding to littering (shame on you) to a busted tail-light, you'll end up dragged off to the nearest mental hospital, these days.

But, officers can be dealt with. Before you say a single word, make sure you're speaking “respect” non-verbally from the get-go by making sure they see both your hands and, if you need to reach for something you tell them first, where and what for and why and do it slowly.

They'll know much in your initial response to them.

What's the first thing you say to the officer?

This author is often surprised just how often I must “beat people in the head with this” bit of knowledge. It's amazing just how challenging this tidbit is to get across to people.

There you are in your legal, insured, vehicle, legally licensed and it's yours. You've nothing to really “fear.” As the officer approaches your vehicle, you have both hands visibly, you're not nervously smoking a cigarette, and you're mentally prepared they're going to be shining their too-harsh flashlights all up in your business and things and stuffs.

In their heads, the thoughts of what they might be walking up to are numerous. Some of them just hard bad news and might be upset/nervous. Your response is crucial. As they approach your window, tapping, you say:

“Good morning/afternoon/evening officer. How can I help/assist you?” Smiling is not required but can be a nice touch. It's a courteous, respectful signal to police you're not a problem, airhead, pot-tard, goofball or other such idiot.

I've seen police almost “disarmed” by the surprise of experiencing simple courtesy from “the guy driving an old clunker with a headlight out.” I've avoided speeding tickets, by the power of simple courtesy – not manipulation.

Can you refuse to answer questions?

Well, yes, if you need/want to, sure. The trick, though, is in how you refuse to answer questions. There's simply no harm in pre-qualifying a decline with a simple, “With all due respect officer...” Really, you're not necessarily acknowledging respect, just “all due respect.”

“With all due respect, officer, I've been advised to let the officer tell me how fast they think I was going.” Say it, without a tone of any sort of condescension. If there's just no getting out of a direct question, be direct. “Just where would you be hauling a$$ off to in such a hurry, son?” Tell them, “Burrito night,” and smile.

Sometimes, not answering a question is powerful. Other times, answering it is even more so.

I know a guy who won't even roll his window all the way down.

I rode with a man once, via video, who refused to even roll his window down. While he successfully handled the encounter by letting them know they were on-camera, I'd simply tell them I'm trying to not give them an awful case of the flu or some other awful URI. They don't want to get sick, either.


Amarillo, Cops, Driving, Motorcycle Cops, Officers, Police, Texas, Tickets, Traffic, Violatons

Meet the author

author avatar Donald Pennington
Donald contributes to a variety of sites, networks, blogs, and other publications. He sometimes writes in the dark, but longs for the light.

Share this page

moderator Steve Kinsman moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


author avatar Peter B. Giblett
21st Nov 2014 (#)

First impressions matter so much here as with all things in life.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
22nd Nov 2014 (#)

Awesome post and one of a kind writing, cheers!

Reply to this comment

author avatar Donald Pennington
22nd Nov 2014 (#)

You're spot on, Peter!

Thank you, Fern!

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Can't login?