As a group of gearheads, we have been pulled over by the police so much we should get a free ticket to the policeman's ball. That is right, the staff here at Sport Truck are seasoned veterans when it comes to the flashing blue and reds in the rearview. We know the feeling all too well. You see the lights, your pulse quickens, your mind starts going over things like, What did I do? How much is this going to cost? Do I have my current insurance card? And so on.
We used our powers of persuasion (we begged) to sit down with an officer from our local precinct and find the best things to do when you get lit up. Most of the guidelines he gave us can be considered common sense, but a few may surprise you. Using some or all of these techniques will hopefully minimize your chance of getting a ticket.
Sport Truck: How long have you been on the force?
John Law: Four years and counting. I am a city police officer, not a sheriff or highway patrol, but most of the advice I can give should carry over.
ST: Will you get into trouble if your supervisor sees this?
ST: So using your real name is out of the question?
ST: Besides the obvious things like doing 100 mph in a school zone, what other things do drivers do that guarantee them getting pulled over?
Jl: Cutting off the squad car, not yielding to emergency vehicles, abrupt lane changes, jack-rabbit starts, hitting switches, loud music that doesn't get turned down, out of date vehicle registration, and here in California, tinted windows.
ST: Cutting off the squad car. That has happened to you?
Jl: Yes, and I gave him a ticket.
ST: When you light someone up, what can they do to minimize getting a ticket?
Jl: Pull over safely. Don't try and find a driveway or something like that just pull over. The officer will tell you if he wants you to move. You can block a lane; the lights on the cop car will direct traffic. The reason to pull over quickly is because the more you delay the more cops will think you are doing something shady. Once you have pulled over, roll down all windows. The driver should leave his/her hands on the steering wheel and do not remove your seatbelt. The passengers should place hands on the dash or the back of the seat for rear passengers. Mainly you want to put your hands in plain sight. Don't move until instructed. When instructed to get your license and registration and proof of insurance, do so at that time. When you have relinquished your paperwork, put your hands back on the wheel and sit still. No begging, nobody likes to hear someone whine, especially us. Don't offer up any unasked information (Why admit to something he is not asking?) just answer any questions directly. Now if the officer asks "Do you know why I pulled you over?" just respond with "No sir." The officer is fishing for you to admit to something instead of him having to prove it. If you are on parole, probation, or have outstanding violations, tell the officer immediately. He's going to find out anyway. Honesty will go a lot further than you think.
ST: What if I feel the cop is treating me unfairly?
Jl: You can request a field supervisor, but that will most likely guarantee you getting a ticket, if not worse. The best advice is to be calm now and make a formal complaint the next day at the station.
ST: Can I just not sign the ticket?
Jl: Refusing to sign a ticket is an arrest-able offence. Signing it is not an admission of guilt, just a promise to appear in court. So just sign it and then make a complaint.
ST: Does a good attitude have anything to do with maybe getting a warning?
Jl: Definitely. We are people too, and the nicer you are to us the nicer we can be to you. Basically, most people don't know the vehicle codes--the California codebook is 3-inches thick and if you read it you'd know you're almost always in some sort of violation. Most of the time, you are in the wrong, so being nice and respectful will help you get off.