I’ve been pulled over while driving a number of times in my life by the police. Not A LOT but let’s just say it’s been more than a few times. Minor traffic violations, speeding, etc. (I’m not going to talk about my arrests, that’s for another blog.)
To date I have never once gotten a traffic ticket. So far I have gotten a warning, every time. (And each policer officer was very kind to me, I'll point out!) Bless them. I’ve also been in the car when others have been pulled over by the police and have gotten tickets or gotten warnings.
So what's my theory?
Based on these observations and personal experiences, my theory is this: when the police officer comes to your window, if the first thing out of his/her mouth is “take out your license and registration”, you’re screwed. You’re getting the ticket. However, if the police officer approaches and asks you a question before asking for your license, you have a shot at getting just a warning. If they’re chatty, you’ve struck the lottery of traffic violation pull overs.
It is also worth mentioning that I believe in two non-negotiable rules when speaking with an officer, the absence of which can be highly caustic:
1) Always speak respectfully, addressing as “Sir” or “Ma’am”, and always with a nonthreatening tone. A smile and humble attitude is critical. I’m shocked by people who get argumentative with an officer. Really? Are you HIGH? Think you’ll argue your way out of the ticket?? No way.
2) Always tell the truth. Period. They are not stupid and know, 99% of the time, you both know what you did. Denying it or playing dumb just insults their intelligence. Don’t do that.
(I would suggest living life with these ideals in mind regardless, but my experience is these two things will work in your favor if pulled over.)
A few days ago I was racing down I-75 en route to the Atlanta Team in Training Kick-Off party. http://rev3tri.com/knoxvilleComingSoon.htm I was there to help support the Rev3 Knoxville program now on their calendar.
Out of nowhere I saw lights in my rearview mirror. I quickly glanced at my speed – I was going about 85mph (in a 55)... “Shitballs!”, I said to myself. This is going to be a mother of a ticket.
I pulled over. I would be lying if I said I didn’t quickly take my hair out of the pony tail and shake my hair out. I’d also be lying if I said...ummmm... I didn’t hike my boobs up just a bit – what little there is to hike up. However, I do not play on my sexuality in these situations, nor do I ever remotely flirt. I save the flirting for after I’ve gotten out of the ticket. Ha. What I do play on is factual data cited in just about any case study. My work towards my Masters degree in psychology trained me to know a reasonably attractive person is more disarming than someone who is totally disheveled. If I looked like a complete hoodlum or like I was heading to initiation for the Crips Gang, odds are not in my favor to be given a warning.
So the police officer walked up to my window. I looked up and smiled. Not a flirtatious smile, a kind smile.
“Good afternoon, Ma’am. How are you today?”, he asked.
(SCORE!!!!!! He asked a question! Just be cool, Carole! Play it out…)
“I’m well, Sir, thank you”, I respond.
“Do you know why I pulled you over today?”, he asked.
“Yes Sir, I do. I was going a little fast.”
“How fast were you going?”, he probes.
“Before or after I saw your lights?” (A TOTAL gamble to throw out that joke, that could have backfired, but I accompanied it with a look of me biting my lip and raising my eyebrows in a facial gesture that implied I was completely admitting I was at fault.... C'mon baby! Aces are wild!!!!...)
He smiled. (PHEW!)
I answered before he could say anything. “I was going about 85, Sir. Way too fast.“
He was still sort of smiling, not really, but a small smirk maybe. “Please give me your license and registration.”
I grabbed my purse and opened the glove compartment box as he carefully watched every move I made. I handed him my Colorado license and the rental car paperwork and told him I was visiting from CO. He looked at the license and paperwork. Then started handing it back to me.
“I’m going to give you a warning today, Miss Sharrrrppless? Sharpless, is it?”, he said looking at my license.
“Yes, Sharpless. Reason enough to get married, isn’t it? I get jokes about my name all the time”, I smiled.
He chuckled. But then his smile turned to a stone face and he looked down at me, “Slow it down out there!”
“Yes, Sir. I will. I’m sorry. Have a good day.”
And with that my white knight police officer strolled back to his car.
I put everything back in my wallet and got back on the highway, all while doing some internal fist pumps! The streak lives on – NO TICKETS YET!!!!!!
The Van Halen song, “I can’t drive 55” came to my head. :-)
Later that night I was thinking about how it all played out, and how consistent the talking point really is. If you’re asked a question at the beginning – you’ve got a shot!
Always be polite (you should be anyway) and always tell the truth (you should anyway). Good words to live by, in general.