Traffic Stops

The most important thing to remember when you're pulled over by the police is to remain respectful and have your documents ready. Cops work long and weird hours and they deal with a lot of crazy stuff. They don't know if you're going to be some nut job that pulls a gun on them, so they're always on edge. Trust me, nobody likes to get pulled over, but you get to stay in the comfort of your car while they are a couple feet away from traffic barrelling down on them. They want to investigate the infraction, find out if you have more serious stuff for them to be concerned about, and finish the stop as quickly as possible. This often leaves people thinking that the officer didn't give them a chance to plead their case. In all honesty, it's not the officer's job to negotiate on the road. While many officers do give "breaks" on the road, many times they are judged by how many tickets they issue, so they may not be concerned that you're running late to an appointment. While there is great debate over the mythical "quota" it's clear that officers who fill out ticket books quickly are certainly noticed by their superiors. One sure fire way to ensure you get a ticket for every possible infraction is by being argumentative or uncooperative with the officer. This kind of attitude can easily turn one ticket into four or five or more! Now, there is a difference between being uncooperative and exercising your constitutional right against self incrimination. Unfortunately, often that difference is difficult for an officer to either identify or appreciate. Admissions can be quite damning in court. Unless they can be shown to have been improperly obtained, admissions can make obtaining a favorable result difficult if not impossible. Officers are trained to ask simple and direct questions. We have an innate desire to respond when we know the answer, just like when we hear a question we know on Jeopardy. Just be careful. Answering a question wrong on Jeopardy won't get you locked up or cause you to lose your license. If you have received an infraction from a motor vehicle stop, it's not something you should treat lightly. It could have an impact on your insurance, your ability to drive, and in some cases, your freedom. Be cautious and do not ignore the situation. It will only get worse. If you're stopped in New Jersey, you will likely receive several letters from attorneys soliciting your business. This is because the court docket is a public record that is acquired by mailing companies who then circulate the letters to you. So don't be surprised when it happens. Call them if you wish, but understand that they usually operate by volume of cases. Just remember, be courteous and have your documents ready. The officer will be much easier to deal with if you remember these two important things. Please drive safely.