What to Do When You Have Been Pulled Over by Police—Part Four—What to Say to the Officer


When you’ve been pulled over by a police officer while driving, you can understandably be nervous. What you say to the officer and how you say it, though, can have a significant impact on the outcome of the traffic stop. Here are some guidelines.

Let the Officer Do Most of the Talking

In many ways, responding to a police officer during a traffic stop is like being cross-examined at trial—you want to answer with the shortest phrases possible without being rude or discourteous. The officer will listen carefully to everything you say. Unfortunately, the more you say, the more chances you’ll say something that either offends the officer or suggests that you were doing something you shouldn’t have been doing. You have the right to remain silent—don’t say anything unless you need to.

Don’t Try to Argue Your Way Out of the Ticket

Be responsive, but honest, with the officer. If the officer alleges that you were speeding and asks where you were going, tell him or her in as few words as possible. If there were extenuating circumstances—you were headed to the hospital or urgent care—be truthful, but don’t elaborate. Let the facts speak for themselves. If you try to argue your way out of the ticket or downplay what you were doing, you may appear insincere or unconcerned about violating the law.

Take a Few Deep Breaths before the Officer Comes Up to Your Car

This will help you relax, and if you are relaxed, chances are the officer will be relaxed, too. Remember, chances are that the officer is nervous, too. For many police officers, there’s no such thing as a routine traffic stop—too many officers have been seriously injured or killed in what others might call routine traffic stops.

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