Pulled Over in Broward County? Curb Your Enthusiasm
Remember back in high school, and even junior high, when you wanted everyone to notice you and everyone to like you? For some people, that continued on into college and then the real world. There is nothing wrong with trying to develop an identity, create an unique character that most people will find appealling, unless of course you have just been stopped by a Broward County traffic cop. With traffic ticket quotas and an ever-increasing push to generate revenue for municipalities, it is very rare that a police officer let’s someone off with ‘just a warning’ once they have pulled him or her over. Consequently, that is NOT the time to try to impress the cop with the wit, charm, or sarcasm that you have developed in an effort to stand out. In fact, if there is ever a time when you don’t want to stand out, it should be when you are about to get a traffic ticket.
The reason for this is simple. You should always go to court, or hire a traffic ticket attorney to go to court on your behalf, to fight your traffic ticket. When you do so, the last thing you want is for the police officer who stopped you to remember you. It usually goes much better for you if the police officer has to keep checking his notes to try to remember the specifics of the traffic stop. Another consideration is that sometimes the officer who wrote the ticket won’t show up to court which usually results in the traffic citation being dismissed. If he remembers you as being angry, sarcastic, or otherwise rude, he is probably going to make a greater effort to attend court to make sure that you don’t get away with treating him, an authority figure, with such disrespect.
Think about it this way. Officer Friendly may have a history of pulling over a half a dozen people a day – 30 people a week. That’s a lot of traffic stops to keep track of. If one of those 30 people is particularly rude, I can assure you, it will stand out in his mind. He is probably going to remember a lot more about that traffic stop than the other 29 stops he had executed that week. He may not remember many of the other details of the traffic stop, but he will remember your attitude.
Even if you are overly amiable, it is likely to stay in the police officer’s mind. Being a suspicious lot, cops often tend to see those who are too convivial during traffic stops as trying to suck up to them which they also will remember. If the police officer gets before a Broward County judge and says, “Well, your honor, when I stopped Ms. So-and-so, she was so very nice until she realized she was going to get a speeding ticket. She then got nasty with me and said…”. This is going to make my job in getting your traffic ticket dismissed exponentially more difficult.
Granted, going to court to fight your traffic ticket boils down to your version of events versus that of the police officer’s. If he doesn’t remember the incident, then he has to rely on whatever he may have written on the traffic ticket. Since, I assume, you don’t get traffic tickets every day, you are likely to be able to recall the event quit clearly. This makes your testimony much more credible than that of the police officer’s. If, however, he can recount more specific information about the traffic stop because you somehow stood out in his mind, that and the fact that he is considered an officer of the court will definitely work against you.
KEYS TO THE COURTROOM
Here are a few ideas to help you try to be as forgettable as possible during a traffic stop:
- Be unremarkable. Your mother may have always been a cheerleader for you by telling you to be all that you can be, but you are not joining the Army, you are getting a traffic ticket. Be mindful to not be confrontational or overly solicitous. It is always upsetting to get a traffic ticket, but as I said, once you have been stopped, you are most likely going to get one anyway so keep your emotions in check. Answer the officer politely. (The answer is always, “No sir” when he asks you if you know why he pulled you over.) Provide him with your license and registration when he asks for it, and treat him respectfully during the process.
- Do not try to justify why you were speeding. The number one reason that people give officers for why they were speeding is that they are late for work. It seems like a valid enough excuse, but really, cops don’t care. Unless there is an emergency such as you are taking someone to the hospital, they are most likely to write you a speeding ticket. Once the officer tells you why he pulled you over, it’s okay to ask if he might be willing to give you a break if you ask politely, but if his answer is no, let it go at that. Don’t get angry and don’t beg. Remember that you are trying to remain anonymous.
- Do not be too friendly and please don’t flirt. The police officer didn’t stop you because he was lonely…he’s not looking for a friend or a date. It is easy to see how some police officers may be offended by such behavior, especially flirting, and being offended by your actions gives him a strong motive to remember you and your behavior once you appear in court.
The purpose of these suggestions is to explain the importance of behaving normally. Now, as an attorney, I realize that there are all kinds of “characters” out there, but the idea is to behave in a generally normal sense, not necessarily in a quirky normal sense. Speeding tickets are a matter of everyday business in Broward County, and that is how you should treat it if you get stopped. You don’t want to be the guy in the business meeting that has an annoying habit that everyone remembers. Equally so, you don’t be the one traffic stop that day that the cop remembers.
Obviously, these tips apply to any traffic ticket, not just those for speeding. Remember that no matter what occurs at the traffic stop or the reason for it, if you do get a Broward County traffic ticket give us a call at the Traffic Ticket Team at 954-967-9888 for a free consultation. You can rant and rave at my office about the unfairness of it all as much as you would like, but doing so with the police officer will never benefit you.