How To Talk Yourself Out of a Traffic Ticket
Having defended 10,000s of motorists for 18+ years, I have heard all kinds of excuses for committing speeding and other moving violations. While there are no magic words, there are things you can say and do to increase your chances of avoiding a ticket.
Don’t profess your innocence. If you are guilty, don’t deny that you committed the offense. It will only irritate the police officer. This suggestion is especially true if the officer is giving you a lecture. Often officer’s who are lecturing you about how unsafe it is to speed are going to let you go. No lecture, on the other hand, means you’re getting a ticket and you’ll have to employ one of the following tactics.
Be polite and follow directions. Rudeness has “bought” many a motorist an additional summons. I was pulled over last year for speeding and avoided the ticket by voicing my concern for the officer’s safety. Specifically, he approached me on the shoulder and was disregarding his own safety vis-à-vis fast-moving traffic in the right lane. I told him to be careful which he appreciated. After running my record for suspensions, he let me go.
While “searching” for your license, allow the officer to see that you have a PBA or other police card. Don’t worry he’ll be watching your hands the whole time, and this subtle display is more effective that throwing it in his or her face. Be prepared to answer questions about the card (“Who do you know?”, “How did you get it?”, etc).
Ask for a warning rather than to be let go. Asking for a warning is better than asking to be “let go” because it sounds more contrite. This language suggests that you will behave and won’t object if the officer were to catch you again.
Suggest a different or lesser charge. Try asking for a less serious charge. I was once pulled over for speeding. When I handed over my license and registration, and pointed out to the officer that I didn’t have my insurance card and asked if he could write me up for that instead. This strategy worked and I was able to get the no insurance ticket dismissed in court by providing proof of insurance. Almost everyone asks to be let off. Be different. Ask for a less serious charge, and maybe you’ll get lucky.
Suggest a lesser speed. This is similar to the last one. Officers sometimes reduce the charge to a lesser speed during the car stop. This is called a “road side plea”. You have nothing to lose by asking the officer to the lower the speed. You can even say (if you mean it) that you will not contest the ticket if he simply reduces it now.
One last point to know is that you only have once chance to “talk” your way out of the ticket. Once the officer leaves with your license and registration, your fate is sealed. Don’t wait for him to return to first try to avoid or lessen the ticket.