What to do when you get stopped by the cops

Yahoo had an article on what to do when you get stopped by the cops. Now this isn’t exactly the first time the subject has come up, but it’s always a good one.

The article covers what’s been said before but, what the heck, let’s stir the pot again. I’ll insert my candid personal opinions. I’m sure you’ll do the same.

Rule No. 1: Don’t argue. True. If you take issue with it at the stop, you’re going to get the ticket. You may have been getting one anyway, but argue it right there and you’ll seal the deal.

Most of the arguments I got from drivers happened when there were others in the car, perhaps a date or another couple. Most of the time I wanted the driver out of the car when there were other occupants. That way we could talk and he could save face if that was his concern.

This was especially true with kids in the car. I always spoke to the driver out of the car. No sense traumatizing the kids. They already think we’re going to lock them up if they don’t eat their veggies. (Thanks, parents.)

Don’t lie: Most people do, however. For one, they aren’t good at it and, two, most actually look like they’re lying when they do.

For some, it’s a reflex. When people lie to you for so many years, you get pretty good at recognizing the characteristics. If you have teenagers, you’re an expert.

Relax: Getting pulled over doesn’t mean you have to yank the car over to the side of the road in two seconds. When the blue lights go on, find a spot and pull over to the RIGHT. As long as you’re not going about 70 mph, the officer will know you’re looking for a spot.

Again, don’t pull over to the left. Find a spot to the right.

At night, I suggest you turn on the interior light after you stop. Just like the movies, it’s best if the officer can see your hands.

And don’t get out of the car with your hands in your coat or pants pocket fishing for your license; keep your movement nice and slow. If your license is in your glove box, tell the officer and they’ll instruct you.

Remember, you might be citizen of the year, but the officer doesn’t know you.

Don’t name-drop: It might work at times, but rarely. It’s almost like arguing with the officer. Name-droppers are just short on the popularity list of the drivers who argue. It’s cheesy and it doesn’t usually go over well.

I had a guy drop my name to me once. Go figure.

There are probably a few more good suggestions out there, but the basics are the same. Sometimes the cop has decided he or she is going to write the ticket, meaning the driver was screwed from the beginning. But most traffic stops don’t happen that way. The officer usually makes the decision after speaking with the driver. (Keep in mind this doesn’t include when alcohol is involved.)

What you say does make a difference.

Now, go ahead, vent away …

44 comments Add your comment


September 21st, 2010
9:49 pm

I would say that getting out of the car with your cell phone in your hand, or, worse yet, talking on the phone, would not be smart. I bet anything involving your cell phone will not help your case.


September 21st, 2010
9:53 pm

By the way, Steve, i was beginning to wonder if you were going to write another article. I like your writing and, think you should do it more. You probably have a world of knowledge to draw from. thax.

don coppola

September 21st, 2010
10:07 pm

i will say what this officer suggests is for the most part true but their are a few jurisdictions (next to Milton, begins with an R, won’t mention the name) that are not so citizen friendly. example driving down Houze road in a pack of 6 cars, not paying attention to the OD and was picked out of those six all going the same speed. gee, could it have been a little profiling because i was the only older pickup in a pack of cars. the officer was very rude even after my very calm apology never said a word, handed me a ticket and off he went. the good story was a Cobb officer stopped doing 12 over, very polite to me as i was to him, joking about my speeding, asked me about my driving record(which is good)and let me go with a warning and a smile. We all make mistakes and should pay the price but once in a while it is good to know their are citizen friendly police out their. thanks for serving our communities and keeping us safe


September 21st, 2010
10:17 pm

Quickly turning on your right blinker is a good way to let the cop know you are not fixing to bolt. I always try to make sure there is room for the patrol car to safely park behind me. I do not want him to have to get out in traffic.I agree that keeping your hands visible is very good stuff. If i pulled you over and you start rummageing around in the car, i will probably have hand on weapon.


September 21st, 2010
11:28 pm

Ok, I have name-dropped MANY TIMES, but one time I told a City of Roswell COP I knew the Mayor of Roswell AND Alpharetta……duh, I got 3 tickets that night……………….And NOW I know a couple cops VERY, VERY well :) and all three say, CALL ME ANYTIME, ANYTIME (Day or night) you NEED anything…well, so far have not had to call them but when I do………………… You guys better come through for me…….I love COPS!


September 22nd, 2010
7:09 am

“Sometimes the cop has decided he or she is going to write the ticket, meaning the driver was screwed from the beginning.” – This had to be written with Cobb County in mind. Kudos to them, though, for providing backseat reading material in the form of bodybuilder magazines while they write your ticket in a steroid induced stupor.

Cop Supporter

September 22nd, 2010
8:46 am

I got pulled over by Forsyth County a few weeks ago for brake and tail lights not working properly (I’m glad he told me once I saw what my light were and were not doing I was scared to drive my truck until it was fixed) I do not remember the officers name but he was very nice, I was on Ga-20 and we were coming up on a gas station so I pulled into there, being on the side of the road is scary enough but if you can pull into a business parking lot I think that is the best and safest thing to do that way the officer does not have to be as worried about oncoming traffic. I have seen too many of those police videos where someone runs right off the road. I hope that might also help the officer not be so harsh with the ticket writing. :)
I love cops and everything they do to protect and serve. I pray for your safety.


September 22nd, 2010
8:55 am

I find it best to also:
1. Not offer a swig from your flask
2. Not use the phrase, “Not right now, I am twittering about this”
3. Don’t address the officer as “Dude”.
4. Don’t hand the officer literature about God and how He wanted this to happen.

But what do I know? I have amassed 20 tickets in my driving career.


September 22nd, 2010
9:46 am

It’s also not a good idea to begin a conversation with “Hi Ocifer…”


September 22nd, 2010
11:03 am

Hey, all mom’s don’t do the ‘if you don’t eat your veggies the cops will arrest you’ thing. I made a point of whenever we saw a policeman or woman my kids and I would go over and talk to them. I didn’t want my kids scared of them if they needed them. I taught them to scream “I WANT A POLICEMAN” if I wasn’t around and they were scared. To a person, the cops we talked to loved it and would go out of their way to nice to my kids.
Now, the one time I got pulled over for speeding, the AL State Trooper said to me “ma’am, you were speeding.” I said “Yes ma’am I was.” She kinda blinked at me for a second then said “well, you weren’t going that fast. I’ll give you a warning.” And I thanked her for being so nice about it. But I know it was the fact that I didn’t give her a line of BS that got me out of a ticket.


September 22nd, 2010
12:35 pm

Also don’t offer a cup of coffee and a donut until you put down your beer.


September 22nd, 2010
1:01 pm

Well, I guess I have to be the one to offer the other side of the coin. My personal experiences with the police are that politeness and relaxed attitude are a gamble and that no matter how honest and innocent your remarks, they can and will be used against you. What to do if an officer asks to search your car without a warrant? What constitutes probable cause and how ready are you to go to jail just for refusing a search without a warrant on principle? Some cops are not citizen friendly and expect you to bend over and take it in the keester because they’re cops and you’re not. Not arguing is one thing, but not complying with every request (demand) is a ride to county regardless of guilt or innocence. Finally, if you refuse to answer questions (be interrogated) without a lawyer present, you will spend at least 8 hours in jail, more likely 24. Sticking to yes and no answers isn’t always accepted and a “please explain” is interrogation. It’s not just me and an attitude because I generally comply just because I don’t have the time or mindset to spend time being processed on a matter of principle. I do know other folks who have had their words and actions twisted by gestapo minded cops. Not all cops are like that, and I respect and admire those with integrity. However, there are some power freaks out there too and they give the good guys a bad name. I don’t trust cops for that reason. Stereotyping cuts both ways unfortunately.


September 22nd, 2010
1:23 pm

Here is another one: Don’t thank the officer. It confuses them. When I got a speeding ticket, back in 1976 (I was 24, it was my first time away from my newborn baby for an hour) in Alabama, I went through what turned out to be a known (by everyone but me) sppedtrap doing 45 in a 35 mph zone. I was terribly unnerved–not that I had never sped but I had never been pulled over) and as he handed me the ticket, he told me that I should call him if I wanted to “work things out.” I thanked him for giving me the ticket, which seemed to confuse him.

When I got home, my husband wanted me to call the officer and see HOW we could work it out. I just crawled into the courthouse and paid the $45 fine (which was a lot of money back then!)

I kid you not. It really happened.


September 22nd, 2010
1:36 pm

(About 15 years ago) My older daughter got stopped by the officer from the little town in our county. She was speeding. He asked if she knew how fast she was going. She ventured, “65?” and he looked over his glasses at her and said, “Excuse me?”" Apparently she was going closer to 75. He gave her a lecture and a warning.

Way Prettier Than You are

September 22nd, 2010
4:08 pm

All the COPS that I know said it’s okay if I call them DUDE…………


September 22nd, 2010
4:47 pm

Couple questions for you, Lieutenant Rose… if you don’t trust the police, how do you handle being stopped? Where’s the best place to pull over? Also, how far can you reasonably expect to drive before you’re considered fleeing?

Sorry, but I happen to be with Pedro on this issue; yes, there are some great officers out there, and I greatly appreciate their efforts. But there are too many others who range from lazy and indifferent to rotten and corrupt, and you never know who you’re going to get when you talk to a cop.

Old School

September 22nd, 2010
6:48 pm

I got pulled over in my county as I was heading home from my very last class in my MEd program (class was 65 miles from home and it was Saturday afternoon.) The State Patrolman walked up to my window and asked, “Well Mrs. ???, do you know how fast you were going?” To which I answered, “About as fast as that FedX truck I was following.” I continued, “Mxxx, did I treat you alright when you were in my class?” “Yess’m, Mrs. ???, and I’m just going to give you a real stern warning. . . SLOW DOWN!”

I have. . . well, maybe not so much on the interstate.


September 22nd, 2010
7:34 pm

Hahaha…the comments were great!!!

Broke Bottom

September 22nd, 2010
8:49 pm

My experiences have taught me to be polite and show respect for an officer doing his job. If I am guilty I will admit it and give a reason for the violation. If I committed a violation and do not have a reason for doing so I will readily admit that as well. Law enforcement officers have a tough job. I refuse to make it more difficult for them. That said one finds himself sometimes stopped by an officer determined to write a ticket. The best approach here is simply to bite the bullet and accept the ticket. The officers I have faced for the most part were professional and courteous. I have been ticketed by the other variety as well. I do remember getting a warning on a holiday when the officer stated that he could have the day off if it were not for people like me. My gut instinct was to tell him it sounded as he was in line for a career change. Knowing that this would seal the deal and I would get a ticket I chose to hold my tongue. Doing so is always a prudent move.

Walter LIttle, Jr.

September 22nd, 2010
9:40 pm

I’m not sure if it’s up currently, but not too long ago there was a video on YouTube about a lady who was pulled over and refused to end her cell phone call. Instead she was giving the person on the other end a “blow by blow” description of the stop and how rude the officer was. I’ll have to see if I can find it or, at least, the link to it.

Keep up the good work Officer Rose!


September 23rd, 2010
1:03 am

Honesty is not the best policy when being questioned by cops. From my experience, cops will use every word against you and exaggerate it to provide circumstantial evidence to prove your guilty. For example a couple years ago, my buddy drove into a roadblock coming from Athens. He told the officer he had three beers in last 2 hrs. Passed the field sobriety test but the officer wanted him to take the breathalyser test. He blew .055 bac so the officer told him to sit tight for an 30 minutes to sober up. After the 30 minutes the officer handcuffed him and told him that he will be going to jail for reckless driving. In the meantime, i was the passenger and had to sit on the side of the road, watching the ga state patrol allowing older adults with their kids to pull to the side of the road to sit to sober up without any repercussions. When my buddy went to court to fight the reckless driving charge, the police report was full of dishonest statements about the incident. The judge cited with the arresting officer which cost my buddy 550 dollars and a night in jail.

Bobby Dicks (da Braves manager)

September 23rd, 2010
1:07 am

Talking about lying, the cops themselves are the ABSOLOUTE worse offenders themselves. Best way to deal with the lying theiving cops is to boost their egos, as thats really what there all about. I wouldnt hate to have such a job, unless its traffic enforecement, ie, revenue raising. I couldnt sleep at night knowing I was stealing $$$ from people. And is there anything more dumber looking than a cop squinting into the sites of his laser gun? http://www.ticketkiller.net (here is how to fight back!)

Ole Guy

September 23rd, 2010
1:40 am

Many centuries ago, fresh outa college, I, and a few drinkin buds, following an evening of revelry, visited a restaurant for the purpose of refocusing prior to lumbering back to our hooches. Being that this particular eatery, on any Friday night/early Saturday morning, was a popular place from which to “refocus”, the local mounties kept a keen eye for those who might be experiencing difficulty in the refocus process. Such was the case on this fine evening as a carload of former warriors-turned-recent college grads noisily left the eatery and headed toward the car. The motor officer, himself a former MP (Military Police), ambled over, and in his South Georgia drawl, asked “You boys ok”? Obviously, we all insisted that all was well. The officer then said that he would be on duty until 8 that morning, and, during the remainder of his shift he would periodically return to the restaurant parking lot in order to “ensure the vehicle was ok”. He then called a cruiser to take us back to our hooches.


September 23rd, 2010
1:58 am

These instructions are all fine and dandy, but one thing that has bothered me to no end since moving to Georgia is the fact that the police allow people to STOP in a lane of traffic when being pulled over, then the genius cops stand there to issue a ticket, instead of pulling into a safe place (parking lot, side street, etc). Where I come from, this is considered impeding the flow of traffic and is quite dangerous.

Just today during rush hour traffic on a major 4 lane thoroughfare in Dekalb, a woman was pulled over and stopped in the lane and the genius cop got out and issued the ticket right there while causing even more traffic pile ups instead of making the effin’ idiot pull into a parking lot that was literally 5 feet away from where she stopped!!


September 23rd, 2010
2:22 am

i went to court for a ticket i received for “stopping ten feet beyond the stop sign” where there is a dead end to the left and in front of you. the only choice is a right turn…now why would i pull ten feet beyond the stop sign!

three other people had the same ticket from the same officer…and were found guilty…go figure!

how sad to have to waste your time fighting an undeserved ticket and the judge is alright with that!

Mrs. Norris

September 23rd, 2010
3:39 am

I really hate it when people tell their children, “if you don’t behave the officer’s going to lock you up.” I just smile and say, “don’t worry sweetheart, we don’t lock up little children, you do whatever you please.” I also hate the name dropping thing. If someone says, “I know so and so,” I just smile and say, “I do too.” The same goes for the tired old response, “I pay taxes.” Well guess what, so do I. I remember once when a citizen was at the precinct complaining about how he wasn’t happy with the service and how he pays our salary, one of the old-timers handed him a penny and said, “here’s your refund.” I’m not telling where I work. ppplllt.


September 23rd, 2010
5:22 am

Mrs. Norris you sound like an intelligent and committed individual. I appreciate that you’re there when I need you.

Having said that, I bet you don’t work in Cobb County – without exception the cops I’ve dealt with there are arrogant jerks.


September 23rd, 2010
7:26 am

Enter your comments here


September 23rd, 2010
7:27 am

I always use your name…..it makes the officer smile!


September 23rd, 2010
9:55 am

In a safety seminar in FL, a female officier told us to NEVER PULL OVER ON THE SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY. Especially if you’re a lone female. Always turn on your hazards/turning light and go to an exit so that you can stop at a gas station or restaurant where they’re are other people.

If they give you grief at the time, a judge and female officiers would back you later in court. This may have been due to a rash of false cops pulling women over to rape them at the time but would you still say that this is a good idea?


September 23rd, 2010
11:53 am

About 3 years ago I was pulled over by Dekalb for going 88 in a 70 zone. The officer must have been new because he jumped out like Barney Fife and had an annoyong squeaky voice. He kept his hand on his holster the whole time. He asked, do you know why I pulled you over? I said, If you’re talking about those guns in the trunk, I had no idea they were stolen. He said, GUNS? Is there anything else in the car you want to tell me about? I said, if you’re talking about that sack of crack under the back seat- It’s not mine. He was getting more nervous by the minute and decided to call for back up. The shift Lieutenant soon showed up and the officer met him at his car and started rattling stuff off in that sqeaky voice. The Lieutenant remained calm and approached me. He said, my officer tells me you’ve got stolen guns and illegal substances in the vehicle sir? I said, WHAT? This officer has been acting strange during this whole stop and I don’t have any of that stuff. I bet he told you I was speeding too.


September 23rd, 2010
1:08 pm

En route home this past weekend from a college football game; 2:00 Sunday morning and I’m stopped by a county police officer (I won’t say which county). Officer was polite enough; said I was going 57 in a 45 – which is probably true – I certainly didn’t argue with him. (There was zero alcohol consumed and the officer never asked that question.) Anyway, my question is why do they ask where I’ve been; where I’m going, etc.? Is there really a reason that such would matter? I didn’t lie to him and provided the answers. Received no citation for which I’m thankful. Just curious of some of the questions that, honestly, shouldn’t matter to the officer.


September 23rd, 2010
2:00 pm

Delvin – LMAO!!!


September 23rd, 2010
2:04 pm

Don’t admit you were speeding…or ran the stop sign…etc. Don’t necessarily act dumb, but keep your answers respectful and short, without agreeing you were breaking the law. Remember- the vast majority of police cars now have audio/visual recording gear that CAN be used against you- should you decide to go to court.

And if you actually DO know someone in “authority”, call them AFTER the ticket and ask them to intercede on your behalf…along side the road is no time to do so.


September 23rd, 2010
5:23 pm

I’ve also heard from a cop that you can ask if their recording gear is on and if it’s not you supposedly can ask them to turn it on. Sounds like a good way to annoy the cop but that’s me.

I also heard that you should always stay in front of the police car, never go to the side of it if possible as it will not be on camera.


September 23rd, 2010
11:03 pm

Delvin, that joke is older than the jokes Lt Steve tells lol. PUH-LEASE.

Here’s a funny one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUIh2U7hFAo

He also has a follow up to it, but I couldn’t find it……….


September 23rd, 2010
11:07 pm


September 23rd, 2010
11:21 pm

LOL I found it. This is great. I hope Steve watches:



September 23rd, 2010
11:38 pm

Honestly, the best way to deal with being pulled over by the cops is to pull over in a safe place, roll your window part way down, and have your license ready for them. Do not answer any questions (anything you say can and WILL be used against you!), and never, EVER, consent to having your vehicle searched. Ever. All you are required to do is hand over your license and wait for the cop to tell you that you are Free To Go. That’s it.


September 24th, 2010
10:47 am

Hey, Lt. Steve! Did you get fired? Your blog is no longer listed with the others on the main page. I had to do a search to find you. Contract dispute? The AJC wanted you to try and sell newspapers with every traffic stop and warrant served?


September 24th, 2010
1:14 pm

@Festus: Have no fear, Lt. Steve’s still here as part of our blogging team.

Look for his mug at the top of the “AJC Community Blogs” heading on our North Fulton community page: http://www.ajc.com/news/north-fulton/

You can also find his View From The Cop blog on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/AJC-View-from-the-Cop/215445562286?ref=ts

P.S. Here’s a directory of all our blogs: http://blogs.ajc.com/


September 24th, 2010
4:16 pm

Thanks. I’m all a “twitter”…


September 28th, 2010
4:39 pm

My favorite “advice” was from a comedian named James Gregory – he advised engaging the officer is a conversation – such as:
Officer: “May I see your drivers license please.”
Driver: “Yes, if I can play with your gun.”
Gregory said he got to sample a lot of jailhouse cornbread using this tactic.

Walter Davis

September 28th, 2010
10:18 pm

One night a few years ago, going home from my 3:00 to 11:00 shift, I went through a town notorious for its “trap.” I noticed a police car beside the road so I watched my speed. The officer pulled out and followed me through the town. Just before town line, the officer pulled me over. I had my license ready. He looked at me and told me that I was pulled over because I was doing 32 in a 30!
I was speechless.
He must have nad a VERY slow night.