Tips on avoiding a ticket (most of the time, anyway)

I got my first ticket in 1969. I was driving from work, down the access road between Chamblee Dunwoody Road and Savoy Drive. I had a 1968 Austin Healey Sprite, yellow in color. I was the coolest guy at the Sing Food Store, where I worked. There were only two of us that night and the other guy’s license was suspended, so that made me the coolest guy by default.

I drove out of the parking lot, turned right and headed down the hill toward my house. My friend was behind me. We hit the access road and I remember looking at the speedometer as it hit about 60 mph. It was summer and I had the convertible top down and enjoying the breeze as it hit my coolness.

Just as I got that really nice, laid-back feeling, thinking about what we were going to do that night (remember, this was back when we were young enough to stay up past 10 p.m.), I saw the blue lights behind me. I never saw the cop. My buddy didn’t, either.

Twenty minutes later, minus any coolness we’d accumulated earlier, we drug our butts home, each with a 60/35 ticket.

I knew that if my father found out about the ticket, he’d take that cool car away and I’d be riding the bus come Monday morning. That just couldn’t happen! The little sports car wasn’t mine, it was my father’s. He let me use it with the following conditions:

  1. Wreck it and I’m dead.
  2. Run over anyone resulting in damage to the car and I’m dead.
  3. Get caught drinking in it and I’m dead.
  4. Get a ticket in it and I’m dead.

There were other stipulations, like don’t drive downtown because the “evil” hippies would capture us and confiscate the car. (Do some of you remember the “Great Speckled Bird” and how Peachtree and 14th streets looked on a Saturday night?)

With all that free love going on downtown, how could a few misguided suburban lads in our Members Only jackets miss? We’d blend right in! So, every Saturday night that we could, we’d head downtown, only to find the free-love thing apparently was meant only for other hippies. The only love sent our way came from a couple of hookers, with four teeth between them, and a drunk named Oxbo in the parking lot of the Krystal on Peachtree.

The time-honored code of silence

Well after the ticket, we conspired not to speak of it, raise the necessary funds and appear in court. I saved money from my convenience store job and, on the morning of the court date, we put the plan into play. We went to school, and then left in my friend’s car, headed to Decatur to traffic court. We appeared and paid a fine. I don’t even remember how much it was, but we scraped up the funds, paid the ticket and left the courtroom about 10:30 a.m.

Not wanting to waste a nice spring day, we decided to skip the rest of the day, so we drove to Lenox Mall and walked around. When we decided to leave, we drove to the entrance and — just about the time we were going to turn left — my friend freaked out and pointed to the car approaching. It was his mother driving. And my mother in the passenger seat. Of all the rotten luck!

Without speaking, we instinctively reacted to the threat.

We ducked.

I guess when you’re in a state of near panic and have no plan, your first seconds are spent trying to become invisible. It rarely works. We stayed low, counting the seconds that we assumed it would take for the car to pass. Slowly we raised our heads.

We were eye-to-eye with two parents with the “angry-mom-from-hell” look.

Although they didn’t see us duck, we never had a chance because we were in a Ford Torino, baby-blue convertible. She recognized the car and wondered why it was abandoned in the driveway of Lenox Mall.

We admitted to skipping school, but kept to the code of silence. For me, I don’t think I admitted that ticket until more than 20 years later.

It’s a horrible feeling isn’t it?

I got my second ticket several years later in 1973 in San Diego. Four-way stop sign violation. I was in a 1960 Ford Falcon, orange in color, jacked up in the back and riding on bald tires capped with chrome-reverse wheels. Not nearly as cool as the Austin Healey.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been pulled over. It’s a lousy feeling, but most of the time we’ve earned it. Whether or not you get a ticket may depend on several things: the cop (obviously), your attitude, where you got pulled over and any number of other things, sometimes including just dumb luck.

Stay around the speed limit, use common sense and, believe me, most of the time the cops don’t give you a second look. (Forget this in rural areas.)

56 comments Add your comment

The General

March 23rd, 2010
3:36 pm

From the article (the next to last sentence of the article), “Stay around the speed limit, use common sense” That is the extent of your ‘tips’ on avoiding a ticket?

Thought there might be more to it than that…


March 23rd, 2010
4:00 pm

Does it really take more than that?

You play you pay

March 23rd, 2010
4:15 pm

Great Story! Still laughing.

I got a ticket once back in the 80s. I was on my way to work and stopped to get a paper and a cup of coffee. A morning ritual I enjoyed for decades, my own private moment before going to a job I never liked.

Usually I waited until I was comfortably settled into my office to read the paper, however for what ever reason I noticed the picture of someone I knew on the front page, my friend. Sometime during the night her body had been found in a dumpster on a construction site in a new and upcoming upper class neighborhood and therefore it was a front page story. Turns out convicts took over her beautiful suburban home,robbed, raped, killed and, dumped her. It was terrible. I started crying and headed to her house I had to see for myself that she was really gone.

I was speeding. The state trooper said I was going 60 in a 35. I don’t really know how fast, but I knew I was speeding. I was already crying hard but didn’t say anything about my problems to the trooper. She wrote me a ticket for going 45 in a 35, she said she was doing me a favor because she really should arrest me for going that fast in a neighborhood, but she could see I was upset.

When I got to court I did not want points on my drivers license so I told the truth, again in tears and asked for understanding and forgiveness. I asked the judge to please fine me but please no points because the increase in insurance would affect a group auto insurance policy I was on, and therefore affect others for my wrongdoing. I even asked for community work to avoid the points. I continued to explain how truly sorry I was and that I had learned my lesson (which was also true). I told the judge I was probably going faster then the ticket said and that I would try not to do that again. The judge was very stern and admonished me loudly. Then he forgave me the ticket because I had been driving for 20 years without incident, but said he would not do it again and to drive safely from then on. I paid a fine and an enormous court cost and headed out. Gratefully no points, he reduced my speeding.

On the way out the trooper said why didn’t you tell me your circumstances I would have understood and escorted you to your friends house. I said because officer I WAS

speeding. My thought, you play you pay.

Never resented the trooper for doing her job and I absolutely know that I could have used my sorrow to get out of the ticket. I just could not extort the death of my friend for the price of a ticket. I would have accepted the points except for the fact that it would affect others, in lieu of the points I wrote a check to MOM, Mothers against Murder. I

Once is Enough...

March 23rd, 2010
6:18 pm

…and it happened just around this time of March, too. I was so frazzled ~ and I had my then 14 y/o with me in the car. I was a little upset when I was given the paperwork to sign. The policeman tried to explain my options. That’s when the confusion started. I must’ve asked the same questions five different ways because I could not recall his answers. At one point, he asked how many times I had been pulled over before and how old I was — none, 42, and then I added that I did not know what happened to the last 20 years of my life. Teenagers do that to you. By the end of it all (at least 30 minutes later, probably more) the policeman was apologizing to me and I was thanking him.

Lt. Steve

March 23rd, 2010
10:21 pm

Really? You need more than “Stay around the speed limit?”

speedy mcspeederson

March 23rd, 2010
10:30 pm

here is a tip, keep your yap shut when you get pulled over. only speak when spoken to and be super respectful. cops in GA are great compared to most other states. I have been caught and released more times than I can count just by not being a dick to the cops.


March 23rd, 2010
10:39 pm

Stay within 10mph of the speed limit and most cops won’t bother you. Be polite, even if they give you a ticket they might cut you a break on the mph over the limit. One cop helped me out with that. I would have had to go to court if he had written the ticket for what I was really doing. I just went in and paid the ticket without having to go to court.

Hey, Steve...

March 24th, 2010
6:44 am

…I remember seeing you at Peachtree and 14th back in ‘69 – my buddy and I were down there, too, trying to be cool – we didn’t blend in very well either. We did manage to scare up some fat girls while cruising the Varsity after being psuedo hippies, but we didn’t really know what to do with them! And I thought Members Only did not become vogue until the late ’70s, early ’80s….

old farts never die

March 24th, 2010
7:09 am

Steve, I was in Columbus at the time, and I too, with a new license and had the use of my dads yellow 1968 Sprite, a sweet little ride, Dual side draft carbs on that baby 4, 15″ rims, but only 4″ ground clearance. Speed bumps were a killer. left hand out over the door, you could almost touch the ground. you could corner on a dime and at 60MPH, 3rd was not wound out yet…. sounded like a lawn mower on steriods.
The memories.

Not anymore

March 24th, 2010
7:13 am

Now it’s Operation Fundraiser, they are pulling people over left and right trying to get more money. And before you comment, I haven’t had a ticket in years so no sour grapes on my part.

Atl Dude

March 24th, 2010
7:27 am

What a pointless article. This is nothing more than a lame personal story no one cares about. There is one sentence about a “tip” and it’s something everyone knows what to do. “Stay around the speed limit..” Really?

The writers here at AJC are terrible! It’s embarassing. Steve Rose, you went to school to learn how to do this? Ever hear the saying “Don’t quit your day job?” I think you ought to consider it.


March 24th, 2010
7:45 am

The only way to have a chance at getting out of a ticket, is show utmost respect to that officer. It doesen’t hurt to be an average Joe or appear to be one. “Yes sir’s” will go a long way. These folks want to be paid respect. Many deserve respect, while others can just be a-holes. You may not get far with the a-holes, but it can’t hurt to be cool with them. If you have a friend/family member in a local PD, contact them after you get your ticket and see if they would call the officer for a break on your behalf. As long as you were respectful at the time, you may get that ticket torn up. Many officers will listen to the opinion of their peers.


March 24th, 2010
7:53 am

As a tee driver in the early 60’s I was being pursued by an Atlanta cop for speeding, though I truly didn’t know it. After making a sudden right turn onto a little known road, the cop failed to make the turn. As I proceeded to “elude’ (toiugh that wasn’t my intention) capture, I ran out of gas. Stranded in the middle of the road, young and inexperienced, I knew that I should get the car off the road but couldn’t budge it. Suddenly I heard a car approaching very fast and waved it down, hoping to avoid a collision. Turns out it was the cop. He questioned me to verify my guilt and explained that he’d clocked then pursued me but missed the turn. WELL, to shorten this very long story: He helped push the car off the road, loaded me in the front seat of his car, carried me to a gas station, paid a deposit on a gas can and bought the gas. Then he carried me back to my car, used papers from his patrol car to form a funnel, had me hold a light while he poured gas into my tank. Waited until I was cranked and running then offered me his hand and advise regarding speeding. I now have grandsons the age I was them but I’ve never forgotten the kindness or the advise of that kind policeman. Realizing there’s been 50+ years since that incident, I only hope that policeman is still around to read this, recognize himself, and accept this note of recognition and THANKS.


March 24th, 2010
7:53 am

Good story, LT. As I’ve said before under another nom de blog, we ran in different circles together. You should have made your way down to 10th St.


March 24th, 2010
7:54 am

How about this……I’ll drive the speed limit when the cops do. It amazes me that they drive the way they do, then have the gonads to pull someone over. And no….I haven’t gotten a ticket in ten years, so, as said earlier, no sour grapes from me.


March 24th, 2010
7:55 am

Correcting my spelling errors: “teen” “though” “advice” “then”


March 24th, 2010
7:59 am

Dude, first of all “Members Only’ jackets were so 80’s NOT 60’s. And second, I never recall Ford making a Torino convertable

Hey, Shep...

March 24th, 2010
8:28 am

…give him a break, after all, it was the ’60s. And, as the saying goes for those who survived, “if it weren’t for flashbacks I’d have no memory at all”!!!!!!

And, Atl Dude, Steve DID NOT go to school for this – he IS a cop in Sandy Springs and writes just for fun….

This is for Shep

March 24th, 2010
8:34 am

Yup, I said it

March 24th, 2010
8:42 am

…and I quote:

“Members Only is a brand of clothing that became popular in the 1980s for the “Members Only Jacket”. The brand was created in 1975 and introduced to American markets in 1979 by Europe Craft Imports (later acquired in 1987 by the Marcade Group).

Members Only was renowned for their brand of jackets, which was first introduced in 1981 and manufactured in a wide variety of colors. The jackets had passants. Their advertising tagline, “when you put it on, something happens”, also gained fame, especially in the early 1990s when several condom manufacturers stole the tagline.

The brand was licensed in 2004 by Kirtie Regan, who resurrected the brand and developed a new line of apparel.”

(if you believe what you read on wikipedia)

Lastly, I am 41 years old and have thankfully NEVER gotten a speeding ticket EVER!!!

I'm just lucky

March 24th, 2010
8:42 am

On I-75 outside of Lexington, I was pushing the upper-boundaries of the speed limit. Sure enough, around a bend a local officer nabbed me with his laser and waved me over. He had my license/registration and was just putting pen to paper when….a guy yells from across the freeway ‘officer, there’s been an accident”. He literally throws my cards in my lap and says ‘today’s your lucky day sir, drive safe’ and sprints back to his cruiser and takes off.

Peter's Tush

March 24th, 2010
9:14 am

Certainly there was some ubiquitous brand of clothing in the 60’s (Hang Ten?) that elicits the same memories as the 80’s Members Only. I had 3 Members Only jackets in 3 different colors (for wardrobe changes) and it seems like I had them FOREVER.


March 24th, 2010
10:14 am

First speeding ticket in Charlotte driving a ‘74 MGB within minutes of getting my driver’s license. Pleaded with the cop that it was still warm from the laminator – just smiled and said it would be a good lesson. Went to court but the judge also thought it would be a good lesson. Perhaps. Haven’t had a ticket in fifteen years.

You play you pay

March 24th, 2010
10:52 am

If you get a ticket in Sandy Springs you will be getting it because you deserve it. Most professional, best trained, best educated Department in the State.


March 24th, 2010
2:39 pm

Tough crowd. Live with the writer’s embellishment and go clean the grease trap before the boss sees you.


March 24th, 2010
6:16 pm

English Lit. majors, auto experts, and fashion historians abound!!! You just never know WHAT you may learn reading Lt. Steve’s blog! One thing though, when a GSP Dodge lights you up, crack the knuckles and limber up the old signature hand, because they ARE polite, but they aren’t easy.


March 24th, 2010
10:23 pm

I had been driving a 14 year old clunker for about 5 years when I bought my first NEW car. A delta 88 that went from 0 to 70 in the blink of an eye. I’d been driving it about for about 5 minutes when I got pulled over for doing 60 in front of a school. As the cop was looking at my license and everything he recognized as going by the school on a daily basis. Then he said, “Lady, this isn’t your old chevette. This car isn’t going to shake at 40.” He didn’t give me a ticket and that’s when I learned to pay attention to the spedometer.

s's husband

March 24th, 2010
10:46 pm

I was waved over on my way to Cape Cod in Massachusetts. I was pulled over with about 15 other cars and there were 2 cruisers. I waited 20 minutes. 20 minutes!!!! No one came by so I pulled back out onto the highway. One of the cops saw me and shrugged.

Shirley Smith

March 25th, 2010
10:41 am

In 1979 I had a cute VW bug that my husband had souped up.I was going on Hwy 5 to Ballground,Ga. when a policeman stopped me.He said he looked both directions to see if another car was around because he didn’t think a bug could go that fast going up hill.I ended up selling him that car and he became a friend of my husband{didn’t get a ticket either}.


March 25th, 2010
11:58 am

Don’t want to get pulled over? Here’s how:

1) Removeth thy head from thy @&& and keepth thy eyes on the road

2) Thou shall not pass a Cop – EVER

3) Thou shall not drink & drive

4) Honor thy stop sign

5) Thou shall not do over 10 MPH over the posted speed limit

6) Thou shall have patience

7) Thou shall leave at least 2 car lengths between you and the car in front of you

8) Keepth thy lights and thy tag working and current.

9) Remember thy school zone and crosswalks and keep them holy and safe.

10) thou shall be respectful to fellow drivers


March 25th, 2010
3:26 pm

What is the “Great Speckled Bird”? Is it as cool as the “Big Chicken”? Inquiring minds want to know…


March 25th, 2010
5:02 pm

@Noneya: The “Bird” was the 10th-14th Street hippie/counterculture newspaper of the 60s. There is actually a history/tribute site at


March 25th, 2010
5:07 pm

I got pulled over on leave from the military for loud music. I honestly think he was looking to see if I had been drinking (which I was on the way to do but I was staying overnight at the party so it didn’t bother me that he was checking and no one was going to get hurt, well maybe a few broken hearts).

I pulled my license, insurance, and official USMC ID. He just kind of laughed at the military ID and asked me what it was. I was hoping to hell I didn’t get the ticket because I was a member of the military and we make less than the people on welfare. How the hell would I pay for it? I didn’t want to have to deal with court when I was due back to base in under a week.

He did let me go with a warning. I was grateful. We partied the night away…..


March 25th, 2010
6:11 pm

@1911A1 – thanks for the tip. I will check it out :)

Ole Guy

March 25th, 2010
11:16 pm

Here’s a (strike forehead with open palm) quaint suggestion…DON’T SPEED! 99.999% of the time, with a little planning, early departure, etc, there is no need for speed. Pass me going like a bat outa hell and, more than likely, we can exchange tough glances at the next traffic light.


March 26th, 2010
9:52 am

Maybe don’t speed does avoid a lot of stops. It’s also fairly obvious – I think people were expecting more that they DIDN’T know.

I’ve been pulled over quite a few times without even the Cop claiming that I was speeding. I suspect out of state tags and a college sticker are big target signs at times – but it can be a pain to be held up and never given a reason – I could remove the sticker, but the tags aren’t really avoidable.

Big John

March 26th, 2010
1:58 pm

Somebody go warm up atl dude’s bottle in the microwave….


March 26th, 2010
6:01 pm

My first ticket, at 16, just got my license, left school early for a dentist appointment, got pulled over for speeding in a school zone. Was the first time I had ever driven during school hours. Doh!


March 27th, 2010
3:41 pm

You want to know how to avoid a ticket with your average officer? Be respectful and admit your mistake. It shows you are willing to accept the ticket if given one, and for most officers that says you don’t really need that ticket – you have learned a lesson. I issue citations more often to people who deny or attempt to argue the point. If you want to argue the point, you can argue in court.


March 27th, 2010
3:55 pm

The ONLY way to avoid a ticket is to have a buddy who is a cop that knows the cop who wrote you the ticket and he calls the cop before he turns it in.

If a cop is writing you a ticket, he’s on ticket duty. If he pulls you over you ARE getting a ticket. The are on city/county revenue duty and they hate it. They are NOT felling generous.

The worst are those two wheeled money generators otherwise known as motorcycle cops. They catch hardened criminals committing suck heinous crimes as not coming to a complete stop for 3 seconds at a 4 way stop sign with no other cars anywhere in sight. Those are the best since there is no way to prove or disprove the charge. He said you did it, then you did it. Since they work in pairs with one hiding and spying and the other one flagging you down, they have to write enough tickets to cover the cost of their salary, benefits, and vehicle expenses PLUS make money for the county/city.

If a regular cop on patrol pulls you over, you WERE doing something highly unsafe. “Routine” traffic stops are the most dangerous thing a cop does day in and day out so they aren’t going to stop you unless you are completely out of control. In that case you ARE getting a ticket………


March 27th, 2010
3:56 pm

Wow, what happened to my auto spell check lol


March 27th, 2010
4:16 pm

GA COP hit it right on the head! Be respectful and admit your mistake. 9 out of 10 times, the Officer will just give you a warning. If you still get a ticket, then it will most likely be because you deserve it or what you were doing was more than the officer could overlook. One other tip, Keep your hands on the steering wheel until the officer asks for your DL and proof of insurance.


March 27th, 2010
4:26 pm

Here’s a useful tip. When an officer asks if you know how fast you were going, never give a mph answer. Always say, “I don’t know.” Giving a speed can count as admission of guilt and they can hold you to that speed whether you were going that fast or not. They can also count it even if they didn’t have a way of measuring how fast you were going. The always be polite suggestion is generally a good idea, but not always effective. When I was 18-25 I drove a yellow Splash and I was batting 100% for being pulled over and getting tickets no matter how polite I was. When I was 16 I got a ticket for laying drag in a 2.3 liter Ranger which I still don’t believe is even possible. I think the biggest factor is what kind of day the cop that pulled you over is having and the individual just not being stupid enough to make his day any worse.


March 27th, 2010
5:04 pm

The cop will give you a ticket if you are female and attractive.


March 27th, 2010
5:04 pm

I mean will not (sorry)

You play you pay

March 27th, 2010
5:15 pm

Fred your mis-information is far worst then your spelling. I

Vote For Pedro

March 27th, 2010
5:21 pm

Those are the whitest tips ever. So how do minorities avoid getting a ticket?


March 27th, 2010
7:24 pm

Georgia speeding ticket? Here is the real scoop.


March 27th, 2010
7:30 pm

Wow…what an enlightening article!! I mean REALLY?!?!? The only “tip” is to “stay around the speed limit”??? Genius idea!!


March 27th, 2010
8:20 pm

There is no magical tip that anyone can give to avoid being stopped by the police. When they have revenue to generate, there is no end to the number of things they can and will stop you for, and speeding is the least of them. I was stopped 2 weeks ago in Dekalb by a policeman who threatened to give me a ticket because my county sticker was missing (washed off by many car washings, I suppose). I was given a warning, but I could tell he was perturbed, because many times they figure if they stop you for one thing, there’s got to be something else that you have done.