Not everyone handles it well when they’re pulled over by a police officer. Some folks get downright nervous; even if they’re not guilty of anything more than having a busted tail light, once the officer approaches they’ll immediately confess everything they’ve ever done wrong in their life. In fact, for some people, a traffic stop isn’t that different from a church confessional.
Other people get defensive, and even angry. They resent the idea of being pulled over when there are real criminals out there who should be getting more attention.
Regardless of your gut instinct, how you react can determine whether or not you get a ticket, as well as the nature of the offense. Here are some things you can say to a police officer when you’re pulled over that might help ease the pain, or even get you off scott-free:
- “I’m so glad you’re here, officer! I was just on my way to make a donation to the Police Retirement Fund.” Of course, depending on the cop, it’s entirely possible he’ll write you up for the traffic violation, as well as trying to bribe an officer of the law.
- “Speeding? That’s a relief. I thought you were pulling me over because I’m soooo drunk!” If you’re an 86 year-old grandmother with a large Bible on the front seat, you’ll probably get a laugh from the officer for this one. On the other hand, if you’re 16 and reek of Jim Beam, plan on a breathalyzer test.
- “I can too use the HOV lane. I’m pregnant!” This one is particularly effective if you’re a burly man.
- “I’m sorry officer. You see, we’re on our way to our honeymoon.” This excuse has got more than one couple out of a ticket. If you plan on using this one, we suggest writing “Just Married” on your back window, or maybe tying some cans and strings behind the car. Of course, you also run the risk that the cop will see those as a hazard, and write a second ticket.
- “I’m trying to return this hubcap to its rightful owner.” Keep a spare hubcap in your car. When you’re pulled over, explain to the officer that you saw the hubcap fall off a car ahead. You stopped, picked it up, and were trying to catch up to the car to return it. You’re simply a good Samaritan, looking out for your neighbor.
- “I’m on my way to the hospital for foot surgery.” When the officer asks what kind of foot surgery, just say “You see, I’m having the lead removed from my foot.”
- “Please, take me to jail!” This one works best if you’re a parent of small children who are obviously bickering or otherwise causing a ruckus in the back seat.
- “I was just trying to keep up with traffic.” When the officer questions this and points out the fact that there’s no other traffic around, just say, “I know, right? They’re that far ahead! That’s why I was speeding!”
- “Good morning, officer. Care for a donut?” This one actually works sometime. Each morning on your commute, stop and get a dozen donuts for the office. When the officer pulls you over for speeding (after all, you’re running late; you had to stop for donuts) offer him one. Be warned that it’s possible he’ll take the entire box and drive off.
- “Why, no. I don’t know why you stopped me.” This one is always a smart move. After all, if you were pulled over because your license plate light is out, you don’t want to admit to speeding. Admission or non-admission of guilt might not be relevant depending on the state where the offense occurred, but you might not want to take the chance.
Ultimately, what you say when you’re pulled over can work for you or against you. If you’re grumpy and argumentative, the officer is much less likely to be understanding. On the other hand, if you’re a little too jovial and try some of these excuses, you might be in trouble, too.
While we don’t officially recommend any of these lines except #10, those among you who are truly brave may find that some of the other lines are actually effective. After all, nothing cuts the tension and puts someone at ease like a little bit of humor.
Greg Muender is President of Ticket Kick, a California company that helps drivers get red light tickets, speeding tickets, and other driving tickets dismissed by helping drivers through the trial by written declaration process. The company, which formally launched in 2010, has been providing similar services since 2006 and is the leading company in this industry and growing rapidly.