Okay, there they are - those flashing red lights in your rear-view mirror. What do you do? Here are some suggestions:
- Immediately look for a safe place to pull over. Don't pull over too abruptly, and try to make it a safe place, but don't take too long!
- As you pull over, leave room for the officer to park behind your vehicle. Once you stop, don't move the vehicle - the officer may think you are running away.
- While waiting for the officer to get out of his vehicle and approach you, stay in your vehicle, sit still, and keep both of your hands visible (the steering wheel is a good place for them). You don't want to do anything to alarm the officer.
- The officer will ask for your driver's license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. If you have to dig through the glove compartment or under the seat for them, first tell the officer what you are going to do. Remember, there's no way for him to know for sure that you aren't getting a weapon.
- When you hand the information to the officer, inform him of any change of address or other information shown incorrectly on the paperwork.
- If you want, you can offer an explanation at this time. If the officer indicates that he is not open to a discussion, just let it go - don't try to debate it. Be respectful - although you are unlikely to talk your way out of a ticket if the officer has already made his decision, you can easily talk your way into a ticket if he has not yet made up his mind!
- If the officer writes you a ticket, he will explain the violation and when your court appearance will be (usually in about six weeks). You will be asked to sign the ticket, but your signature is not an admission of guilt. If you have questions about the ticket or process, you may ask the officer at this time. Depending on the question, he may refer you to the court.
- As you drive away, try to be philosophical rather than angry. After all, the officer is doing his job in an effort to keep our streets safe, and you might have exceeded speed limits on other occasions and not been caught. Also, you may have the opportunity to keep the violation off your record by attending traffic school. You can attend traffic school once every two years, although you must first have the judge's permission if you were speeding more than 15 mph over the limit. Think twice before spending the time to fight the ticket, though, because the conviction rate exceeds 90%.
So, after reviewing these suggestions, what's the best advice of all? Please drive safely in the first place and obey all traffic laws.