10 Critical Errors Motorists Make When Stopped by a Cop
Being stopped by a police officer is never high on one’s list of welcomed events. Most people would rate it somewhere between a hospital visit and helping a friend move.
Still, the specter of a police cruiser’s lights and siren behind that precipitates the dreaded pull-over does not mean the encounter must end poorly. Emerging from a police stop with a positive result – without a ticket or other minor violation – at its core is about facilitating, if not creating, a positive experience. While the police ultimately control the outcome, the motorist can often contribute and sway things to her or his benefit. You can do this…
As a general rule, the more at-ease or comfortable an officer is during the stop, the greater the likelihood of a positive outcome. Put another way, an officer is more inclined to be “forgiving” when he or she is relaxed and at-ease during the encounter. Have you ever observed an officer when she is comfortably engaged in communication with a motorist? Interacting in an almost guard-down fashion, as if conversing with a long-lost friend? That positive level of interaction with the officer should be your objective. Your goal.
On the contrary, a hostile police encounter – and there are varying levels – represents an encounter where an officer is more likely to issue a ticket. Or worse. Even when she may have initially been “on-the-fence” about its issuance. Do your best to ensure the encounter does not go “south” or negative.
In sum, your principal responsibility during a traffic stop is to make the officer at-ease; to make her or him comfortable. Even light-hearted. Display respect. Hurl a compliment. Thank the officer for her or his service. Change the stop’s dynamic. It can be done.
Do not engage in common pitfalls below. Without further ado, the 10 critical errors include:
1 – Exiting the vehicle before specifically instructed to by officer (sets encounter off to a bad start)
2 – Volunteering to officer why you believe you were stopped (even if asked by cop, never volunteer answer.
e.g., “I was speeding, right?” will be noted as an admission by the officer and used in court.)
3 – Movement within the car. Avoid! This includes proactively reaching for one’s or license/registration
before requested by the officer (i.e., can heighten concern by officer, as a “furtive” movement)
4 – Failing to Keep hands visible (recommend steering wheel area). Activate interior light if dark outside.
5 – Failing to control passengers (i.e., instruct passengers to remain quiet during stop, before officer
approaches your car; and advise passengers to remain still and keep hands visible…)
6 – Being impolite and disrespectful to the officer (e.g., Try flattery. Thank the officer for her service…)
7 – Failing to reference a close friend/relative who is an officer (if applicable.) Ask officer is she knows
8 – Failing to request a break from officer before he or she leaves your driver’s side window during initial
approach (i.e., Perhaps to a lesser, non-moving violation. Do not wait until officer returns with ticket.)
9 – Complaining to officer about the stop or displaying “attitude,” whether verbal or non-verbal (such as
sighing, rolling eyes, etc.)
10 – Disrespectful cues such as delaying or failing to lower window; or not lowering music volume, etc.
While no static set of principles can prevent a ticket in every traffic stop, avoiding certain pitfalls can improve your odds. Or foster a lesser ticket (e.g., equipment, instead of moving.) More often than not, a motorist has a good, fighting chance at prevailing during a traffic stop. It helps to have a game that puts an officer at-ease, to make her or him comfortable and facilitate a more relaxed, if not light-hearted, encounter.
Those involved in traffic offenses need the help of a skilled and trusted DUI attorney in Suffern NY in order to have a successful case. Those with serious charges should not attempt to handle the case on their own. Attorney Randall Inniss is prepared to help you in your time of need. Contact our office to schedule a consultation.