Speeding certainly isn’t a great example of car safety. But sometimes, you don’t even notice how fast you’re driving, especially if you’re traveling with the traffic flow. Though you can’t always wiggle out of a speeding ticket, here are a few things you can say to improve your chances of avoiding one.
Make small talk, but not too much
Being polite to police officers begins before you’ve been pulled over. Reader’s Digest suggests waving “hello” if you’re speeding and then spot a police car. With luck, the officers will either think they know you or will understand you’ve acknowledged your speed and indicated you’ll slow down. Waving “hello” can reduce your chances of being pulled over.
But a police officer stops you anyway, be polite. A little small-talk can humanize the interaction. However, it’s best to complete the traffic stop as quickly as possible and say as little as you can.
Ask if it’s OK to reach for your wallet
Traffic stops can be dangerous for police officers. To show an officer you aren’t a threat, keep your hands on the steering wheel and hold still during the stop. If it’s nighttime, turn on your dome light inside your car.
Also, ask the officer if it’s OK to reach for your wallet, driver’s license, and registration before moving. Also, don’t stare at the officer in your car mirrors.
Ask for a warning instead of a ticket
You might be successful if you ask for a warning instead of a speeding ticket. Warnings are also often included in a police department’s ticket quota, Reader’s Digest reports. Ask politely, and don’t admit you’re guilty of speeding.
Plus, it’ll help if your vehicle makes you look like someone who should get a warning rather than a ticket. Avoid illegal car modifications, which in some states include dark tinted windows, and keep your car clean and clutter-free. Also, avoid putting pro-violence or anti-police bumper stickers on your car, Reader’s Digest suggests.
Request a continuance or a dismissal later
If you do get a ticket, you might be able to request a continuance to push back the court date. This gives you more time to prepare a defense, and it makes it likelier that the police officer will forget your details (especially if you weren’t memorable). The delay also makes it likelier that the officer could transfer positions, retire, or not appear in court. And in some states, if two officers conducted your traffic stop, both might need to appear in court.
Also, if you notice and mention a factual error on your ticket, you could get it dismissed. Or if there was no speed limit sign located near the spot you were stopped, you could also get the ticket dismissed. It’s usually a distance of .25 miles, Reader’s Digest reports, but regulations vary by state.
What you shouldn’t do
There are also a few things you shouldn’t say or do if stopped. Don’t apologize for speeding. Admitting to it makes it more difficult to contest your ticket in court later. Also, don’t ask if the cop knows who you are or say other things that might make you sound rude. Reader’s Digest suggests avoiding statements like “My taxes pay your salary!” or “Don’t you have anything better to do?”
In addition to not being rude, try not to act nervous or angry. Though those may be natural responses, a police officer could think you’re trying to hide something or you’re about to do something aggressive. And, of course, the best way to avoid a speeding ticket is to drive the speed limit.