We have said it many times before on other blogs, when you are stopped by the police, you should say as little as possible. Give them the information that you are obligated by law, but say no more. This is a rather short list:
- your identity,
- vehicle registration,
- proof of insurance.
Beyond that, anything you say is really just evidence the officer will record that can only hurt you. You may have the best of intentions to explain why a particular event happened or mistake was made. In a traffic stop, you are in a very official interaction with a state agent. They will often say “just doing my job”. That is fair, don’t impede them, but certainly don’t do it for them!
Just for fun, let’s look at some of the things that you can say to an officer, but what they are really hearing from their perspective.
You say: “I was only accelerating to pass.”
They hear: “I was already going the posted limit but only because I was stuck behind someone. I wanted to speed so I did, and I have just admitted it to you.”
You say: “I was just moving with the flow of traffic.”
They hear: “There were other people all around me who were also breaking the law. I know I was going faster than the posted limit, but liked my odds that I wouldn’t be the one you’d catch. You should definitely write this down in case I take this to court.”
You say: “I only had my phone in my hand so I could connect it to Bluetooth.”
They hear: “I don’t understand that the law is set up to keep me and others on the road safe. I don’t believe that being distracted for a few seconds in a moving vehicle is a danger to anyone. In order for me to be convicted, it has to be established that I indeed had my phone in my hand, not the reason why. You’re welcome, officer.”
You say: “I did not know that you were not allowed to turn there.”
They hear: “I definitely made an illegal movement on the road, I just didn’t know that it was illegal. I don’t think it should be illegal. For me anyway. Maybe make it illegal for the next person?”
You say: “There never used to be a stop sign there.”
They hear: “I pick and choose the rules I obey based on what I have become accustomed to. Whoever put that stop sign there is guilty, not me!”
You say: “You know, I pay your salary!”
They hear: “I am mad that I got caught and now I am throwing a tantrum and trying to demean you. Please write me a big, fat ticket for the original issue, and then keep looking for what else you can pile on!”
You say: “I only took my seatbelt off for a second.”
They hear: “I only took my seatbelt off for a second.” – yes, this one is so dumb, it stands on its own.
You say: “My friend is a police officer. Maybe you know him?”
They hear: “I am using the name of someone I may or may not know without their knowledge or authorization to try to get me out of trouble they had nothing to do with. I don’t respect your position and duty. Go ahead and write that ticket!”
These are just some for-fun examples to illustrate a point. A traffic ticket does pose a problem, some that are larger than others. But at the roadside is not the time to try to talk your way out of it. Call Aitken Robertson and vent it to us! As far as the police officer is concerned, if you want to say anything at all, it can’t really hurt (and may help) to wish them well and to enjoy the rest of their day!