What To Do When You Get Pulled Over – How to Minimize Getting a Ticket

by James Sullivan

What To Do When You Get Pulled OverThe flashing lights in the rearview mirror, the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, the sweaty palms and racing heartbeat, you got it…you’re getting pulled over. We’ve all been there before. But, what should you do when getting pulled over? Are there a few things that you can do to minimize your chances of getting a ticket?

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What To Do When You Get Pulled Over

Do you know what to do when you get pulled over? Here’s a list of things that you can do to maximize your chances of getting a warning and not get a ticket.

Slow down and try to turn

Get over to your right and slow down. Turn on your signal and look for a place to turn into. 

Select a safe place to stop

It is ideal if you can find a place that looks secure for yourself and the officer.  Look for a place where you can get out of traffic, that is well lit and that is safe for the officer to get out of his/her vehicle. 

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Think about safety for everyone

What To Do When You Get Pulled OverTry to position your car somewhere that reassures the officer that you will not speed off. A parking spot with a median or block in front of you, behind another car, or other obstruction may be good choices. You also want to consider

You also want to consider the safety of the officer and your car. It may be a safer choice to pull over on the left side of an interstate for example if there’s ample room. 

You can also slow down, turn on a turn signal, and drive to a safer area if possible. You see drivers doing this in a busy urban area quite often.

Get your vehicle ready

Roll down your window, and turn off your vehicle.  This will further reassure the officer and will still allow you to speak to him or her.

Keep your hands on the wheel and visible

Keep your hands on the steering wheel, and do not make any sudden or furtive movements or gestures.  This is the most dangerous point regarding the officer’s safety, and they know this. 

The officer will likely touch the back of your vehicle on or around the driver’s side taillight on the approach to your window. This is a safety precaution in case the officer is hurt or killed, and it can be identified that the vehicle was in fact stopped by that officer.

Touching the back of cars was put into place due to the uncertainty of these situations. Sit tight and make yourself look as non-threatening as possible.   

Be polite

Provide the officer with all requested documents including license, insurance, and registration. Being nice and cooperative gives the officer more discretion in dealing with you. Remember, “it’s always easier to catch a fly with honey”.

Answer all questions

Answer all questions honestly and shortly-don’t volunteer anything to the officer. Remember, don’t say you’re sorry. Saying sorry may be used against you as an admission of guilt later.

Cooperate with any lawful commands

Remember the stop may or may not be lawful. But, on the side of the road is not the time to dispute this. You could only open yourself to criminal charges or worse, physical injury, or death.

Stay in your car

Do not exit your vehicle unless expressly told to do so. The officer will let you know what he or she wants you to do. It’s always best to stay in the car unless told to do otherwise.

Hopefully, if you played your cards right, you can get off with a warning.  If not, take the ticket with grace and be on your way.  If you are placed under arrest, keep quiet and contact a local attorney.

What about you? What to do when you get pulled over? Did I miss any other tips?

Note: The foregoing information presented should not be construed as specific legal advice. It is for informational purposes only, and you should address any specific questions towards an attorney in your area.  

What To Do When You Get Pulled Over

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About James Sullivan

James Sullivan is an experienced criminal defense attorney. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications.


James Sullivan has written 4 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Money Beagle

What I’ve noticed from my few times getting pulled over or hearing from people I know is that, if the cop is driving along and sees you doing something, you’ll have a better chance of getting off versus if they’re sitting there looking for bad behavior. In the latter case, they pretty much have decided that they’re writing tickets and since they caught you doing whatever they were looking for, it’s pretty much a given that you’re getting a ticket.

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