Like many things in life, we all drive a bit differently. For some of us, this can mean getting pulled over more than average, while others can go five to ten years without ever having an encounter with the police for breaking the rules of the road.
For those in the latter camp, getting pulled over can be incredibly stressful. It often happens when you least expect it. You’ve driven for so long without a police encounter that when those red and blue lights flash in your rearview mirror, combined with that ear-piercing siren, you might not know what to do at first.
What To Do When You See You’re Being Pulled Over
The first thing to do is turn on your blinker to indicate that you’re looking for a safe place to park. This lets the officer know you are being compliant. Look for the safest place to park. However, you don’t want to drive around aimlessly in this endeavor. If you can find an immediate parking lot or sidestreet to pull over on, do so. If not, pull over onto the side of the road.
Next, turn off whatever music or talk-show you’re listening to and start looking for your papers:
- Drivers license
However, when the officer approaches, have your windows rolled down and your hands on the wheel. If you haven’t found your papers by the time he or she has arrived, keep looking after your introduction. If you can’t find all the papers you’re looking for, tell the officer.
Next, the officer will take whatever papers you have (hopefully you have all of them) and they will return to their vehicle. Now we play the waiting game.
When the officer arrives again, he or she will most likely either issue you a ticket or let you off with a warning. If the rule you broke was particularly minor, you have all of your papers, and you were polite and followed the rules above, you may be let off with a simple warning. Otherwise, a traffic ticket will be issued.
The officer will then return to the police car and it’s now time to leave. Make your turn signal and safely move back out into traffic. There is no rule stating who needs to leave first. That’s really up to you.
What To Do If You’ve Been Issued A Ticket
The first thing to do is relax. A traffic ticket is unlikely to affect your life in any way for at least two weeks. In that time you will be able to calm your emotions and think rationally about how to handle it.
You have three options:
- Refuse to pay – Don’t take this option. Traffic tickets don’t go away just because you refuse to pay, and will only get worse.
- Pay the ticket – This is often the best course of action.
- Fight the ticket – If you go this route, hire an attorney. Sometimes it’s worth fighting traffic tickets if the effects they have on your life aren’t worth paying them.