Six things you should not do when you’re facing a traffic ticket
Hoping to talk yourself out of a traffic ticket? It could be a money-saving move.
Alyssa Willis, an agent at Annette Willis Insurance Agency in Atlanta, says that if you rack up two or more traffic tickets in a three-year span, your auto insurance rates could creep up.
“There isn’t an exact formula for the number of violations or accidents that will lead to an increase,” Willis says.
That’s because the amount varies based on where you live, and other factors like your driving history and your credit score. But Willis says collecting several tickets during one “policy period” — typically a year — might send premiums climbing about 5 percent to 10 percent.
So, if you find yourself pulled over by a cop for traveling 45 mph in a 30 mph zone, here are six things you should not do to plead your case. Following this advice could keep your auto insurance premiums out of the fast lane.
1. Don’t turn on the waterworks.
Michael Nowak, a Los Angeles traffic cop, says: “I have three sisters; I’m impervious to tears.”
Even so, he says, crying doesn’t show remorse for your actions — “it shows remorse for the fine you’re going to pay.”
“A simple, ‘I was wrong and I’m sorry’ shows remorse for breaking the law,” Nowak says.
2. Don’t be an actor.
Kat Albrecht, a retired police officer for the University of California, Santa Cruz, says her favorite scheme was when a traffic violator transformed his car into a theatrical stage.
“The one that sticks in my mind the most,” Albrecht says, “was the professor I pulled over for speeding who answered his cellphone right as I walked up to him and said, ‘What? Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no, no, no!’ and started cry-acting.”
Albrecht says the driver put the phone to his chest, and then told her he’d just learned that his favorite aunt had died. The professor said he needed to be with his family.
“It was one of the cheesiest performances I’d ever seen, and I gladly wrote him a fat ticket because of it,” she says.
3. Don’t play dumb.
David Grindeland was out for a Sunday drive in Santa Ana, Calif., with his wife when he made a wrong turn and wound up going the wrong way down a one-way street. “It was a very quiet day, luckily. There was absolutely no traffic — well, except for the police officer who spotted me,” he says.
When the police officer approached the car and asked Grindeland about his driving, Grindeland played dumb.
“I told him I didn’t know I was in the wrong. I was from North Dakota, and they don’t have one-way streets there,” Grindeland recalls.
The cop didn’t buy the story. Grindeland received a traffic ticket.
4. Don’t tell a whopper of a lie.
Albrecht says lying is a direct route to a ticket.
“Everyone screws up behind the wheel. But lying and saying, ‘No, I didn’t’ when the officer saw it in plain view won’t score you points,” she says. “Lying guarantees you’ll get ticket.”
Your best bet is honesty. Just fess up. “That will give you a fighting chance because the officer won’t be ticked that you’re telling fish stories,” Albrecht says.
5. Don’t pretend to be oblivious.
Monique Ramsey was stopped in Yuma, Ariz., with a van full of people by a patrol officer hiding in the median among the bushes. She was caught traveling at more than 80 mph in a 65 mph zone. Ramsey says the officer to see her license and registration.
“She also asked if I knew how fast I was driving,” Ramsey recalls.
Ramsey’s answer of “no” seemed to irritate the officer.
“Well, didn’t you think it was strange that you were passing all the other cars? Wouldn’t the fact that you were passing them indicate that you were speeding?” Ramsey remembers the officer saying.
Hoping the officer didn’t really know how fast she was driving or perhaps would buy the “but everyone else is doing it” excuse, Ramsey told the cop she didn’t have any idea how fast the other drivers were traveling. “Other people were going just as fast as me,” Ramsey recalls telling the cop, “and some were even passing me.”
Ramsey’s reasoning didn’t convince the cop.
“The officer gave me a pathetic stare and issued the ticket,” Ramsey says.
6. Don’t act smarter than the cop.
On the way back to her station after tracking a felony suspect in another jurisdiction, Albrecht says she was zipping along at 65 mph in a 55 mph zone when another driver blew past her. When she pulled him over for speeding, the driver questioned her ability to write him a ticket because she was out of her jurisdiction.
“He figured I didn’t have the authority to stop him,” Albrecht says.
The driver figured wrong and got a ticket. Albrecht says the driver “learned the hard way that even local police, not just county sheriff’s deputies or state troopers, have authority to enforce the law anywhere in the state.”