Monday, September 27, 2010

My personal opinions on avoiding stops and tickets and dealing with them when they happen

What follows are my opinions.  I'm neither a cop nor a lawyer - though I could play both on TV.  You are - as always - responsible for your actions -- so don't try to blame your troubles on me.

DennisIII's comments on my previous post provoked some thinking on this topic, and decided to make it a post instead of another comment.

Until a few weeks ago, it'd been a number of years since I had a speeding ticket - so long ago that they had no record of it, which helped me when I went to court on this one last week.  The Judge gave me "Probation Before Judgment", which means "no verdict, keep clean for a year and it never happened."  Get another ticket within a year, though - and they nail your for BOTH of them.

Further proving the whole exercise is about raising cash, almost ANYONE can get a PBJ - then must pay the full amount of the fine PLUS $25.50 as "court costs."  When I say "almost ANYONE can get a PBJ" I mean it -- the girl behind me had been driving less than a year and was popped doing 89 in a 50, and the cop even admitted he'd reduced her speed to avoid the reckless-driving charge -- but I digress...

The benefit to PBJ for me is - since there's no "guilty" verdict - no points and thus no getting raped by having my insurance premium double!

I asked for leniency on the fine - (I'm crippled, kid in college, etc) - and he cut the fine in half - but that's not really what this post was supposed to be about.


70 in a 55.  Bright, sunny, spring day.  The funny thing is that I was driving a road I drive almost daily, in the same vehicle, doing the same speed - and I usually drive right past the popo without a second look. 

This day - with my daughter in the car - I get pulled and ticketed.

I'm willing to bet it was because my daughter was in the car - he saw "teen girl" and figured that meant "teen boy driving."  Whatever...

Once he had pulled me over, he pretty much HAD to write me for something - though he could have given me a warning he didn't.  Odds are that he needed to write a bunch - while they have no "quotas" to meet, the number of tickets they write (IE: The amount of CASH they bring in) makes up a LARGE part of their "performance" review.  The difference between this and a "quota" is largely semantics, but this way actually encourages them to write EVEN MORE than a quota would...


Over the years, I've figured out what works FOR ME, AROUND HERE, to avoid being stopped.  You ain't me, you don't live here - so YMMV!

#1: Appearance! 

I'm a middle-aged white guy, clean cut, driving vehicles that aren't TOO old and are well-maintained, clean and waxed, and mostly un-modified.

Unfair as it is that has A LOT to do with it.  They tend to pick on the youngsters, and those driving beat-up or "stereotype" vehicles.  I've asked a couple cops about that and got the same answer - so I believe it's true:
"A young or poor-man will just pay the ticket - they can't afford to take the time to go fight it.

A guy like you will take a day from work - even if it costs him $500 - to try to beat a $50 ticket, so we tend to go after the kids and the beater-cars because they're less hassle."
What they DIDN'T say - but we all know is true - is that they're also more likely to turn a speeding-stop into a search/bust with the younger/poorer-looking folk as well - thus making them even MORE attractive.  If you're 18 and driving a Mercedes with 22" chromed spinners and a subwoofer rattling windows a mile away, you're on the "this should be fun" list as well.

The lesson?  If you're young, try to make your car seem as new as possible, and well maintained.  Don't draw attention to yourself with spoilers, stickers, coffee-can mufflers, etc.  Subdued colors are better as well, for the same reasons.

Camouflage!  Try to fit in!!

This also has to do with your driving.  If I can find a bunch doing 80 on the highway, I'll jump right in the middle and roll!  Even passing people - provided you're doing it at a steady speed, and not driving erratically or dangerously - jumping lanes, swerving or cutting people off - you're usually OK.

If the limit is over 35, I ROUTINELY do ~15 over - at 35 or below, around here, you'd better stick to the limit or you WILL get nailed.

In other words:

  • 25=25
  • 30=30
  • 35 sorta depends -- could be 35 or up to 50
  • 45=60, and on up I routinely add 14 or 15 - PROVIDED it's safe for me to do so.
It really is all about fitting in, and not drawing attention to yourself.

Don't hang out in the fast lane.  Don't drive erratic.  Don't make your car into a giant "please screw with me!" sign by tacking on a bunch of crap that says "I like to race!!" or "I'm a social deviant"!


The biggest tip I give everyone - even if they CAN'T afford a new*ER*-looking car is that if you see a cop, don't slam on your brakes.  He's already nailed you speeding by the time you see him, and slamming on your brakes is a suspicious act -- makes it look like you're afraid or have something to hide.  As with all predators, this simply kicks in their "chase" instincts.

If I see him, there's no point in slowing, I just ride.

If I'm close enough to him when I pass, I'll give him a little nod and wave - or a salute - as I keep on driving.  I've even had 'em come up behind me and stay there for a while before finally changing lanes to pass me and going on their way.


So you've done everything right and still gotten pulled.


Stay calm.
Pull over IN A SAFE PLACE - if you can't safely stop where you are, then slow down and turn on your flashers, but keep driving until you can get over in a safe spot.
Car in park, turn off engine, window down, hands on wheel.  If it's dark, turn on your interior light.

This is THE #1 most dangerous point in a cop's day, and he's going to be on edge - you don't want to get shot, so don't do anything to freak him out.

Sit there, and STFU. I don't ask "why did you stop me" or anything else - I don't want to be seen as "confrontational."  STFU.

When he ASKS FOR IT, *THEN* I get him your my License/Reg./Ins. info, etc.

I say "My Lic. is in my wallet, which is in my left-rear pocket. May I get it out?  Then I do it.

"My Reg. is in my glove-compartment - May I open it?"

I open glove box then sit back - "My reg. is in the black folder - may I get it out?"

No furtive moves, no misunderstandings. I don't want to die today.

Eventually he'll tell me why he stopped me -- again, arguing will not help, so STFU.

DO NOT offer *ANY* info - just STFU.

Be prepared - as in my previous post - to handle "I don't wish to ..." "I do not consent to..." -- but here too it is CRITICAL to be as polite as humanly possible.  Disrespect will not help you - he's already going to be ticked because you blocked or questioned his "authoriteh" -- don't make it worse by being an @$$.



1 comment:

Dennis308 said...

Hey man, don´t blame me. I can bairly get my own last 2 brain cells to stop arguing and do so work sometimes. I´m not the clean cut type but like you it has been a while since I got a ticket. But beware there are a couple of small towns coming down here from Houston that have speed limits of 35 and they don´t mean 35+1/2. I generally kee my speed to within 10mph of the limit unless I´m in some Burg, like the ones I just mentioned. But I really like the part about DON´T ACT GUILTY. And the family sedan is a very good way to stay under the raidar. I have my ol´farm truck that doe´s the same ´round here.
I have read some of your other posts and comments/conversations here at your home page. And we do have a little in common, except your spelling is much better. Come on over and visit some time just follow the Dennis308 to? Maybe you could find areason to get down this way.
(btw I like your style of righting)