For some people, even the sight or proximity of a police officer can cause anxiety. At the other end of the spectrum are those who express open disdain for law enforcement officers, even if they’ve been pulled over due to an infraction.
Both reactions, and everything in between, can make matters worse if you don’t know how to speak to an officer.
There is one simple way to put yourself in the right mindset when talking to an officer. It’s a mindset that is more likely to produce the most favourable outcome for you.
Speak to the officer like you would like to be spoken to if you were them.
Still, that’s just the mindset. But what you actually say to the officer can be the difference between avoiding a traffic ticket, and being convicted of one.
6 Tips for Speaking to a Police Officer When Pulled Over
1. Let the Officer do the Talking
Just about everything you say has the potential to make your situation worse. And, if the officer is intent on giving you a ticket, there may be nothing you can say to make things better. So it’s best to limit what you say and that starts with saying nothing until the officer engages with you first. Definitely do not act hostile, contradictory or defensive. Even if you disagree with the ticket, you are not automatically guilty of it. You can go to court later to present your arguments against it.
2. You Have the Right to Remain Silent – Don’t be Afraid to Use it
Any information you give voluntarily, or your answers to questions, could be considered an indication of guilt. Also, if you say something that’s inaccurate, you may get an extra charge for obstructing justice.
3. Don’t Give Answers that You Think the Officer is Looking For
Officers often ask ‘do you know why I pulled you over?’ You may think it will help you if you can figure out the reason for the stop. But, it may also be taken as an admission of guilt which may work against you later. Even if you know you were speeding, or not wearing your seatbelt, you don’t know if that’s why the officer stopped you.
Conversely, if the officer asks ‘do you know how fast you were driving?’ your answer should be ‘yes.’ You should always be aware of how fast you are driving. If the officer tells you how fast you were driving, you can answer something like ‘I understand.’ That shows you understand what the officer has told you, but you don’t necessarily agree that it’s the speed you were travelling.
4. Tell Them About Any Movements You Intend to Make
You are required to show your driver’s licence, vehicle registration, and insurance document when asked by an officer. Tell the officer where the documents are before you reach for them.
5. You May Refuse a Search of Your Car
The officer may ask to search your vehicle. You have the right to refuse that request and call your lawyer. Again, don’t grant the search request just because you think it will help your case. It’s an officer’s job to look for violations of the law, not to give you points for being nice. Still, do your best to communicate calmly and clearly.
6. If You Have Passengers
When you are stopped, encourage your passengers to remain calm, stay seated and only speak if the officer speaks to them directly.
As we said, if you do receive a traffic ticket after being stopped by a police officer, you can defend your rights in court. X-Copper’s team of traffic ticket lawyers and former police officers understand court procedures, know how to defend your rights, and get the best possible outcome for you.
To learn more about traffic tickets, check out our article The Hidden Penalties of Traffic Tickets.