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What Not to Say When Pulled Over by a Cop

by Jennifer Waters
Sunday, September 19, 2010



In what he calls an "educational video" that's widely circulated on YouTube, comedian Chris Rock offers advice on what to do when you get pulled over for a traffic violation.
"Obey the law" he says. "Stop immediately" and "stay in your car with your hands on the wheel." Finally, "if your woman is mad at you, leave her at home. There's nothing she'd like to see more than you getting your [you-know-what] kicked."


It's a dead-on spoof of a hard truth: Respect authority. If you don't, you increase the odds of a pricey ticket.
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"Everything in that video is absolutely true," said Sgt. Matthew Koep of the South Plainfield, N.J., Police Department. "It's funny, but it's accurate."
Citizens who are generally law-abiding are likely to come into contact with the police only under two circumstances: If you're a crime victim or you get pulled over for a traffic violation.
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Police officers are not out to make your life miserable, but to make sure you're following the rules of the road and not endangering yourself or those around you.
With a few exceptions, and an egregious traffic violation is top among them, cops aren't mandated to write tickets. Most would rather send you on your way with a friendly warning -- that can save you time and money.
But handle the situation with an aggressive or arrogant attitude and you can expect to squeeze an expensive court date into your busy schedule.
Play Nice
First rule: don't argue.
"I get this all the time," said Karen Rittorno, a nine-year veteran with the Chicago Police Department. "'What are you stopping me for? I didn't do nothing.' If they try to take charge of the traffic stop, they're not going to get out of it without a ticket," she said. "We ask the questions, not them."
Accept that the police have caught you doing something that's against the law, such as speeding or gliding through a stop sign.
"All we do is react to what people do when you pull them over," said Dennis Fanning, a homicide detective and veteran officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. "We don't instigate the stuff, but we will react to you. The situation will escalate or de-escalate depending on how that person reacts."
To argue with cops is akin to calling them idiots. Don't do that. "That's implying that I pulled you over for no reason and that bothers me," Koep said.
Keep It Honest
Don't lie, either. Cops are trained to note the human characteristics of lying, including twitching and looking to the left, and they know the right questions to ask to suss out the truth.
Fanning estimates that nine out of 10 people lie to him. "It's an attack on our intelligence," he said.
Moreover, the truth can set you free. Koep recalled an incident when he pulled a young guy over for speeding.
"He looks straight at me and says, 'You know, officer, I wasn't even paying attention. I just had the best date of my life. I just met my future bride. I'm just on cloud nine right now.'
"The guy was completely serious," Koep said. "How are you going to write that guy up after that? Who makes that kind of stuff up?"
Of course, don't use pejoratives when addressing the police, unless you're eager for a ticket. But other words may backfire, too. Rittorno works in a crime-ridden section of Chicago where the majority of people she pulls over for traffic violations don't have licenses or insurance, she said.
"So I get a lot of, 'I'm sorry, baby. I didn't mean it, sweetheart,'" she said. "I hate being called 'baby' or 'sweetheart.' I'm 'officer' to you.''
The police don't like being talked over, either. "Be polite," said Chicago Officer Mike Thomas. "You have your rights as a citizen, too, but it doesn't do you any good to talk while he's talking."
Cops know that people are nervous when they get pulled over, and they expect a certain amount of jumpiness when they approach a car. Rittorno even admitted she's intimidated in the same situation. "I'm the police and I get scared if I get pulled over," she said.
But did you know they're on edge, too? You know who they are, but they don't know whether you're a good guy or a bad guy. "The only thing on his mind when he approaches you is safety," Thomas said. "You know you don't have a gun in your lap, but the officer doesn't know it."
Rittorno, for one, said she assumes everyone has a gun. "I'm always on 10," she said, referring to her high level of vigilance. "I take it down depending on their demeanor or what I see."
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Stay Calm
When those headlights go on, it's best to pull the car to the right, stay in the car, turn the interior lights on if it's dark and put your hands on the steering wheel.
Don't make any quick movements, and don't turn to grab your purse or put your hands in your pocket or under your seat to retrieve your license -- until the officer instructs you to. Then, do it slowly.
Don't move to open the glove box either, until directed. And do that slowly, too. Let the police shine a light inside the box before you reach in. Many criminals hide guns in glove boxes.
"What's going to cause the situation to get worse is for the fear factor to rise in that officer," Koep said. "The officer is more likely to cut you a break as long as you can reduce that fear. …If you're friendly with me, not arguing or denying what happened, that lowers the fear factor and will make me a lot more cooperative with you."
Don't boast about who you know, either. That can infuriate cops. They consider it a veiled threat to their livelihoods. Fortunately, most municipalities have laws in place to insure that an officer is not fired or reprimanded for ticketing, say, the mayor's daughter.
Finally, never try to buy off a cop. "In those instances where they've offered me a bribe," Fanning said. "I loved making those arrests."
 

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That is completely true. If you are nie and cooperative with me you are mre than likely going to get a break. But as soon as your attitude goes bad mine does too.
 

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Oh how true. You will never win the argument on the side of the road, I will!! Don't argue take it to court, there you can win. If you don't argue in the first place you probably won't have to take it court. In the instances where I asked the driver if they knew why I stopped them, I've had some funny answers. Make me laugh and your more likely to drive away with a written warning or maybe a verbal one. There have also answers that insult my intelligence, like telling me you have to go to the bathroom when I stopped you for 95 in a 70. You pulled over and stopped at the entrance ramp to the instate from the rest area. So why didn't stop in the rest area. That's a ticket and if you have an attitude with it, it takes me a long time to enter all that info into my computer so it can print out your citation.
 

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Yep... very true no sense fighting with a cop when you know you are in the wrong. I wasnt arguing my ticket last week at all i knew i was speeding but my son told him what kinda week i had (he's 7) and the cop was like well you've had an awful time this last year so he ticketed me for 6 over instead of 15 over like i was doing.
 

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Oh how true. You will never win the argument on the side of the road, I will!! Don't argue take it to court, there you can win. If you don't argue in the first place you probably won't have to take it court. In the instances where I asked the driver if they knew why I stopped them, I've had some funny answers. Make me laugh and your more likely to drive away with a written warning or maybe a verbal one. There have also answers that insult my intelligence, like telling me you have to go to the bathroom when I stopped you for 95 in a 70. You pulled over and stopped at the entrance ramp to the instate from the rest area. So why didn't stop in the rest area. That's a ticket and if you have an attitude with it, it takes me a long time to enter all that info into my computer so it can print out your citation.

My ex is a cop he says to keep a box of donuts on the seat beside you... lol.. hes cute. I dont ever argue, i have gotten 3 tickets in the last year but that is because i have a problem with my lead foot at times... That cop knows what he got ya for and he is just doing his job!! And !! To argue with a cop in front of your kids if you have em just teaches kids to not trust or respect cops! I know there have been times that my kids have needed a cops help like when my 7 yr old was run over by a car, its a good thing he didnt have a dislike for cops he knew they were there to help
 

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This is true some of the time. A lot has to do with whether the police officer is more laid back or an @sshole. If you're honest and respect them, majority of the time, they'll let you go if it's not something major. If it's a rookie, you might as well expect a ticket.
 

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Don't give them a reason to hassle you, it is that simple. Be courteous and you'll get the same...that's been my experience pretty much.
 

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I have personally had experiences where I have been given a warning or a reduced speeding ticked, just by being courteous. Of course I have also not been given a break when being curteous just the luck of the draw.
In the end its just good manners.
Cops are just people with a job and they will react to whatever you do. Being Argumentative will only escalate the situation.
 

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Police officers are not out to make your life miserable/QUOTE]

Not entirely true. I've met a few and worked with a few that seemed to get off with cheap pinches. Just because their in a bad mood, everyone they come in contact with suffers. It's not the norm, but that statement just isn't 100% true, sorry.
 

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I've always tried to treat the cop the way I want to be treated. However last month coming through Vinton LA I got stopped by a pure a,,hole city "PIG". I have a disabled veteran tag on my car with a wheel chair sticker. This as,hole made me get out of the car and hoble to the rear of the car. Then the jerk wanted me to stand between his and my car on the apron of I10. No way in hell was I going to put myself between those cars. After the jerk wrote his ticket. I ask him if he made all disabled people get out of there car [no reply] then I asked him didn't he see the disabled veteran tag on my car. He said these words to me "That don't mean nothing". My last words were well then if I called you a son of a ***** it wouldn't mean nothing would it?
 

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its hit or miss for me, but for the most part when the cops are out for tickets (and you can tell when they patrol more) ,if you get stopped, youre getting a ticket
 

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Hey patrick sorry he was a ******* to u..that cop will get his..karma..yeah cops these days are out of control.they are not the rulers of the road..mopar is..if they dont like it stay the hell out of our way..
 

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I truly sorry to hear that some folks here have had bad experiences with LEO's.

The majority of the time, a LEO has already made up their mind, 90% of time whether they will or won't write a traffic citation.

I've had people that have been polite and courteous, I have had people drop "F" bombs and yell and scream at me and have told me that they have had intimate knowledge of certain members of my family.


The majority of time people write their own tickets. Honest mistakes are what they are, stupdity is issued citations.
 

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Man Patrick, I hated to hear that you were treated like that! :(

Overall though, I haven't had a bad time with cops. I've had a few that were totally out of line, but I have to tell you all what happen once. My Wife and I were on our way home to Fort Smith Arkansas from Little Rock on a Sunday night, where I had just done weekend drill w/ the Army Reserve unit I was in. We were cruising along on !-40 and I was running a little fast as I was anxious to get home and relax. I usually run 5 over and have passed all kinds of cops (City, County & State). But, I guess I was running more than 10 over, because Next thing I knew, there he was, in my rearview mirror, with his lights going. He gets out and comes up to our car and greets me, then asked me if I knew how fast I was going? I replied ( I don't remember MY words right now, but I was nice & nervous) All of a sudden, my wife said, you should have seen how fast he was going before you saw him! I liked to have fell out! I thought, what the Hell is she doing? (and I was working on the conversation we were going to have AFTER he left and things had been GOOD, so I was shocked by her comment, to say the least). Well, that cop looked at her and looked at me, then said he'd be right back. He went back to his car, checked me out, came back and said, "Look, I'm going to give you a
warning" but you need to watch your speed and be safe. After he left, my Wife said Bet he felt sorry for you and that's why you didn't get a ticket. Then I realized why she did that. She said, something told her to say that.
All I know is, I didn't get a ticket that night and later, we would recall that night off and on and laugh about it. My wife passed away last year, but on occasion, I still think about that night and how she saved me from getting a ticket. Other times, I haven't been so lucky. But it HAS been quite awhile since I've gotten one.

Also, about 2 years ago, I was making daily ( and sometimes 2 times a day) runs from My home in Western Arkansas, to Little Rock when my Dad (85yrs old now) was in the hospital and got stopped a total of 4 times during about a 2 month period. When I was asked by the cop, how I was, I would briefly tell him the situation and I only got warning tickets and one of those times, I was running about 15mph over!

Just My Experiences, Give the Cop the benefit of the doubt!

As has been said, "They Are Only Doing Their Job!"

And truthfully, I'm glad They have what it takes to BE a Cop,

Cause I don't!
 

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geee, i thought you were going somewhere else with that one! i have something else you never say to a cop.....

this dude comes racing over a bridge and gets caught by a radar cop doing 75 miles in a 60 mph zone.
the cop comes up and says "sir, i pulled you over for speeding, any reason why you were going so fast"?
the man says "yes officer you see i'm an azzhole stretcher and i'm off right now to a client to stretch the poor fellows azzhole"
the cop looks at him quizzically and says "an azzhole stretcher.... ok so how big do you stretch them"?
the guy says "well some as much as 6 feet"
and the cops laughs and asks "oh really, and what EXACTLY do you do with a six foot azzhole"?
and the guy replies "you put him at the end of a bridge with a radar gun"

and that is something you don't say to a cop!!!
 
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