For the amount of time that I drive, living in NYC, the number of times I am caught making some sort of traffic infraction is inordinately high. Despite the fact that I am a good, safe driver (confirmed by many family member and friends), it seems like every time I get behind the wheel the law says I’m doing something wrong. This can get particularly pricey in Manhattan where you can easily rack up multiple tickets in one day (standing in a bus stop zone is illegal?!) and at $75-$150 a pop, you’ll get some hefty fines.
Before I moved to the city of pedestrians, I grew up in a town where you needed to have a car to get around, and got my license two months after my 16th birthday. I’ve been pulled over too many times to keep track of, and yet have no moving violations OR points on my license. How, you might ask?
To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure. When I get pulled over, I’m struck by a range of emotions, firstly really pissed off, close second is panic, and NOT AGAIN. Put that all together, and I’m not in the most pleasant mood for haggling my way out of a ticket. I’ve never actually been let go scot-free, but with a series of well-placed fibs, I have managed to get big speeding violations dropped down to minor offenses like my inspection being expired or a tail light being out. I’m not saying that it helps to have something wrong with your vehicle, but in my experience, it gives the Police Officer an out to still give you a ticket, but let you off a little easy.
Tactic # 1: Exploit that cop’s sexist tendencies.
Most people don’t seem to think that women can drive fast, and well. Sports cars with manual transmissions and any engine over 4 cylinders are traditionally considered boys toys. Although Danica Patrick is working on changing that, the fact is that if a man pulls a lady over, he probably thinks he can handle the machinery better than she can. Pretending that the reason you’re going to fast is simply because you have no idea how to handle such a big engine and the powerful machine ran away with an innocent little woman inside might get you out of a speeding ticket. OR the cop’s entertainment at your blatant lies might put him in just the right mood to have a laugh at your expense rather than writing you up. Batting your eyelashes and smiling doesn’t hurt either even when you’d much rather tell them where they can really stick that ticket book.
Tactic #2: Play it vulnerable and scared
This is particularly effective for people who cry when they get pulled over, or for people like me, who sometimes cry when they’re really really mad that they got caught. There’s a good way to use that indignation bordering on hysteria. The scenario is, you’re speeding and have passed an 18-wheeler somewhere in the past 20 minutes or so. Your story is that a sicko truck driver was harassing you and making lewd gestures (here some hand motions and faces really help drive the story home). You, again, being a vulnerable little lady sped off to avoid being followed or endure further innuendo because you were scared. This can work regardless of the gender of your officer.
Tactic #3: Minimize your prior offenses in court
The judge is probably going to slap you with a heavy fine even if your ticket is reduced to parking on the pavement just to teach you a lesson. However, when they ask you about your prior offenses, you can choose to interpret that as moving violations rather than total times having run-ins with the law, and say zilch, insist that you know speeding is a terrible offense endangering the lives of others, and plead for mercy.
Moral of the story: your fate is in their hands. Just acknowledge it, and play the helpless mercy seeker. Let the cop take the position of power, and feel like they are doing you a service by minimizing your ticket, or not giving you one at all. If they’re left feeling like they’ve done a good deed at the end of the experience, you’re usually the winner with no ticket or a lower violation. They key is to make them want to help you out of the bind that caused your infraction, not to make them want to punish you with a fine.