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What do I do when the Nice Police Officer pulls me over for speeding?
Laney Law Firm

(07/01/13 Laney Law Firm) - It has happened to everyone. Either you are really in a hurry, driving too fast, or you are just not paying attention. The fact is you were going too fast for the Nice Police Officer now behind you. What next?

When the Nice Police Officer approaches, he is going to ask you some questions. Here is how you can be ready.

"Do you know why I stopped you?"

You don't really, but you have a real good idea. The key is, don't do his job for him. Best option:  "No Officer, I don't"

SIDE NOTE: The immediate temptation or inclination here is to get upset or angry. This is a mistake in every conceivable situation. Be calm, be courteous, and you can get back to your regular day.

"Do you know how fast you were going?"

Maybe you do, maybe you haven't a clue. Again, don't do his job for him. Best responses include "No officer, I am not sure", "The speed limit, sir", or something similar. Often the inclination here is to try to lessen the damage and admit to the speeding, but to minimize. You know, the old, trusted, "I'm not sure, 78?" response (when you were going 85 and the speed limit is 75.) This is a mistake on multiple levels. First off, the Nice Police Officer KNOWS how fast you were going (or at least he thinks he does.) Your answer, well intentioned, has just sealed the deal. Most importantly, you just admitted your guilt for the traffic ticket. Second, if (God forbid) you are at the beginning of a 'larger problem'; you have just solved the problems of reasonable suspicion and probable cause for the Nice Police Officer. Nothing establishes probable cause for a traffic stop or other problems better than a driver's admission that they were actually violating a traffic law.

When the Nice Police Officer asks for your license and insurance, tell him where they are and what you are going to do before you begin rooting around in your car or glove compartment.

On this issue it is very important to be understanding of the Nice Police Officer's very real and valid concerns. Police officers do an incredibly important and dangerous job. "Routine" traffic stops can be incredibly dangerous or ridiculously mundane. The problem is that the officer can never know before the stop if you are a nice soccer mom late to get your daughter from volleyball or a touring thrill kill psycho. Do what you can to make his fears go away. It is to your benefit. It is smart.

Texas is a concealed handgun state. If you have a concealed carry permit it has to be provided with your license so tell the Nice Police Officer immediately (he is going to see it when he runs your license anyway.) If your gun is anywhere near where you are going to be reaching for your license or insurance, tell him immediately. Think first and avoid potentially horrific circumstances.

Once the 'investigation' begins you will know almost immediately if you have a 'larger problem'.

Today is primarily about JUST tickets. We will deal with 'larger problems' at greater length in later offerings.

Once you are pulled over and the Nice Police Officer starts asking you questions, he has probably decided what is going to happen to you in the first minute or so. Arguing with the Nice Police Officer is NOT what you want to do at this juncture. It can ALWAYS get worse; it usually does not get better. If he is going to issue you a warning, he'll tell you. Once he starts writing a ticket, you are getting a ticket. Your argument here will NOT help.

If there is ANY chance you will actually fight your ticket now is the time to start building your defense. Details are essential. This is probably your only traffic stop today (at least we hope so.) The Nice Police Officer deals with these every day by the handful and may literally have hundreds of stops between now and when this issue appears in Court.

What data do you need? Basically, gather everything that might be useful.

  2. Names and contact information for any potential witnesses (passengers, other drivers, people following you, etc…)
  3. Note info on the officer and his unit (vehicle.)
  4. Your exact location as close as possible. You need this for both the location of the stop and for the location of where the actual violation allegedly occurred.
  5. Accurate weather conditions.
  6. Presence of any other traffic and traffic level (heavy, light, none.)
  7. What the police officer said to you and asked you during the stop.
  8. If your phone has voice memo capabilities, use it to take notes or even record the entire encounter. (But, be smart here, put it in a pocket or jacket.)

If the stop is for speeding, ask to see the radar read out. The Nice Police Officer may not let you since he is not actually required to do so. Again, do not argue with the officer. If he lets you see it, remember all the details you can. If he does not let you see it, make a note. What we use later is the fact that you asked and he wouldn't let you see it. Either way, it may help. Do not argue with the officer (Yes, I know I repeated this.) The point is to gather data and start your defense. The goal IS NOT to become 'memorable'. You want the Nice Police Officer to forget about you five minutes after this stop.

To help with this, leave the scene smooth and calm. Again, do not be memorable. You will probably never see this Nice Police Officer again. If you do, you will remember him and all the details you are prepping now (if you do what we suggest.) He will have some scribbled notes on one of the hundreds of citations he regularly writes. Usually, he won't remember you, your car, your clothes, nothing…

So, should you just pay your ticket?? Well the answer is really up to you. How important is convenience and your time? There are real benefits to actually getting off the couch. Each year millions of traffic tickets are written in this county. The vast majority just send in the fine. It is easy. But is it smart? Let's think. If you just plead guilty:

  1. You WILL pay the full fine.
  2. You WILL have the ticket on your record.
  3. Your insurance premiums may go up.
  4. Other repercussions such as suspension of your license may occur.
(depending on the type of violations)

If you pay it, you WILL lose. If you contest the ticket you may win. Just by showing up you can often grab a reduced fine, a defensive driving or other diversion, or even a dismissal. What is the downside? There is usually no downside to asserting your rights and making them prove up their case (or at least being ready to do so.)

The Nice Police Officer is there to protect our fair community. If you let them become tax collectors, how does that protect you?

The HaleCenterInsider.com is excited to present this column to our readers and proud to be working with Mark Laney & Troy Bollinger. You can learn more about them and review their respective credentials by clicking on their names.

*** Make Laney & Bollinger YOUR Lawyers ***
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 Watching Greed Grow...AFTER You Die.

Archived Contributions
1.  Introduction to Laney & Bollinger
2.  Can I Prepare My Own Will?
3.  What Can You Do When Stopped For Speeding
4.  Justice in Texas - 2013
5.  Really?... Left Lane For Passing Only?
6.  Watching Greed Grow...AFTER You Die.

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