by: Kevin Ransom | AOL Autos

    There are few things more nerve-wracking, or more anxiety-producing for even the most law-abiding driver, than seeing the flashing red and blue lights of a police car in your rear-view mirror.

    It doesn't always have to be a harrowing experience, even if you know that you were driving well over the speed limit, or that your registration is expired, or heaven forbid, you've had a few too many cocktails and are behind the wheel anyway.

    There are a few simple rules to follow to make sure the experience doesn't have to be any more unpleasant than it already is -- considering that it's likely you will come away with a fat ticket.

    We sought the advice of a former Virginia State Trooper, now retired and working happily at an intelligence analyst job for a federal agency in Washington, D.C. He asked that we not use his real name, "because I don't want people to think I'm trying to draw attention to myself," he said. He chose a colorful alias, asking that we just refer to him as Trooper Tom. Here are his six tips.

    Pull Over in a Safe Area

    First of all, the most important rule to follow is to pull over in a safe area, as soon as it is reasonable and safe to do so. "Don't pull over in a place that is going to put you or the officer in danger," says Police Officer Tom -- like a narrow left-hand-lane shoulder on a highway. "If you do that, the officer is not going to get out and risk being hit -- he's going to get on the loudspeaker and tell you to move over to the right shoulder, and then you have to negotiate traffic to try to cross the highway. That can be aggravating, and you don't want to lock yourself into a ticket by making the officer mad," he says.

    Don't Coast

    Secondly, don't coast for several blocks before pulling over. "If you just keep coasting, the cop is going to think, 'What is this guy doing?' He may think you're stalling because you're trying to stash something," warns the police officer. "If you pass a few safe places to pull over, the officer is definitely going to think you're up to something, and that raises suspicion."

    Keep the Engine Running

    Surprisingly, Police Officer Tom also advises you not to turn off your engine, especially if you're driving an old beater that's not reliable. "I generally didn't like the citizen to turn off his engine, because if it's an older car, it might not start again, and then you're in a situation where you have to wait for the guy to call a buddy or call a wrecker, and he's mad because you stopped him -- I'd just as soon not have to negotiate all that," says the police officer.

    Keep Your Hands on the Wheel

    Keep your hands on the wheel as the trooper or officer approaches your vehicle. "That's how people kill you -- with their hands," muses Police Officer Tom. "They can reach for a weapon or the gear shift, which can turn the car into a weapon. We always focus on the driver's hands, and if they're not on the wheel, we're immediately more apprehensive, and that doesn't help your situation if you're the driver."

    Stay in the Car

    You should always stay in the car. "I didn't want anyone out of the car, ever," says Police Officer Tom emphatically. "If they get out of the car, I'm thinking they have something to be afraid of, like they're wanted, or intoxicated, and in either case, that's a safety issue for the officer," warns the police officer. "I don't care if you're the baddest officer there is, there's always someone out there who's badder than you, and if we can keep them inside the car, that's the best way to keep from being injured. If they're inside the car, they can't fight you and maybe grapple for your gun and shoot you."

    Be Careful What You Say

    Being polite to the officer isn't necessarily a pre-requisite, concedes Tom. "I never demanded respect," the police officer insists. "I only didn't want dis-respect. If you want to be rude and yell and complain and say you're going to file a complaint against me, that's fine, I heard that all the time -- just don't get physical. And don't use curse words in an aggressive way, because in Virginia, anyway, that can get you arrested for disorderly conduct."

    The police officer details some of his more exciting or amusing traffic stops -- that is, when people did not take the advice he shared above, and paid the price. Once, he pulled a woman over on the highway for violating the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) law. In Virginia, during morning and evening rush hours, vehicles traveling in the left-hand of some highways near Washington, D.C. are required to have more than one occupant. The ordinance is aimed at cutting down congestion by encouraging more drivers to car pool.

    "She got out of the car and she was immediately extremely irritated," recalls the police officer in his Tennessee-by-way-of-Virginia accent. "I guess she was en route to a job interview. Now, I can put up with a lot of static, so it takes a lot to get me excited over an HOV ticket, but she was is in my face immediately, and she starts cussing and complaining, and she's actually making the process take longer because she won't let me write the ticket. I asked her to get back in her car, and she did, but in 15 seconds, she came roaring out again.

    "This happened several times, and her anger kept escalating, and she kept yelling and cussing," continues Police Officer Tom with a wry laugh. "So finally, I had to roll my window up while she was yelling at me, just so I could finish writing the ticket. Well, I guess she didn't like that because she yanked my door open and said, 'Don't you ignore me, you m------- f------!' Well, that was it, she crossed the line there, so I cuffed her and arrested her for disorderly conduct and took her in."

    The bottom line is that the original HOV violation was just a $50 fine, but the disorderly conduct conviction would have given her a criminal record, explains the police officer. "And she had a job with the federal government, so a criminal conviction would have meant losing her security clearance, and therefore her job. So during negotiations between her attorney and the commonwealth prosecutor, she eventually paid a $2,500 fine in exchange for lowering the charge to a careless driving violation. So that turned out to be a pretty expensive outburst on her part."

    One serious but amusing tale involved a driver who was "power-braking" his pick up truck outside a raucous Springfield, VA bar at 3:00 a.m. He was extravagantly spinning and screeching his tires "and just filling the air with blue smoke and burning rubber," recalls the police officer. "And he's doing it right in front of me at a traffic light. So I pulled him over, and he was clearly intoxicated, but he wasn't belligerent or anything -- he was a nice guy, an 'ol' country boy. But he failed every field-sobriety test I gave him." This included a breathalyzer test, which revealed that he had a .18 blood alcohol level, more than double the legal limit for driving.

    But the guy kept insisting that he be allowed to perform "his own test" which he claimed would prove he was not drunk. So finally, just out of curiosity, the police officer acquiesced -- with no guarantees. "So the guy takes off running, and all of a sudden he goes into this cartwheel/back flip, with his cowboy boots on, and his legs go counter-clockwise, and he lands it, perfectly, in his cowboy boots, like he was a gymnast at the Olympics or something."

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    1 - 20 of 538 Comments
    Oahu Jan 25, 2011 10:31 PM
    You\'re an IDIOT! If (God forbid) someone breaks into your home, does you and your family bodily harm, if your daughter is being raped, call a meth addict! They\'ll REALLY help you! The one thing I\'m certain of is that if anything like the above were to happen to you, your first call would be 9-1-1 so stop belly aching!!! I hate to even imagine living in a place where there is NO law enforcement.
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    blu330ciguy Oct 13, 2010 1:21 AM
    Thank you for all the helpful tips. i recently just read another really good article that had some good advice about how to reduce the fine of your traffic ticket or possibly get sympathy from the traffic judge. If you can learn to connect with the judge in the right way, there is a chance the judge will show sympathy. This article had a lot to say about how to increase the odds so that they fall in your favor. http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-get-sympathy-from-the-Judge-in-Traffic-Court
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    lisaellenb58 Sep 17, 2010 6:24 PM
    I was stopped by a DC officer this afternoon. The officer told me to pull over...there was no shoulder to pull over to. I coasted down a block and he pulled up behind me, angry as could be and created a scene. I tried to explain but he would not have any of it. He yelled at me that as soon I disobey him, I lose my rights as a citizen. I wasn't speeding. I didn't even know what I was being pulled over for. He continued yelling at me, so much that I cried. I gave him no reason to act the way he did. I wasn't flippant, I wasn't even angry. I'm traumatized.
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    mahmoodrsheikh Sep 11, 2010 4:03 AM
    Police officers defenitely have attitude, they think they are super humans and superior to civilians. They are out there to show how powerful they are and will use all channels to put you down. If you look at the comments to the article the cops have even pointed out to civilians as "idiots". Wish the cop community had perrished in the WTC where innocent people died. We all know how they beat up common people under the camera because they know that in the court of law the judge will side with them.
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    slowplayinpairs Sep 09, 2010 9:14 AM
    I think its funny that so many people think cops are here to help you, and that you can talk yourself out of things. The law is written anything you say can and will be used against you, cops are not even allowed to testify for you if you were in the right. Listen to the educated Harvard law teachers, don't say anything, politely deny to say anything without a lawyer present. There is nothing that you can ever say to a cop that can help you. Some cops are doing a good job and serving their communities but very few. Whether or not you break a law or not often they treat you like crap. And definitely keep your hands on the wheel, even though bad police commands got a motorcyclist paralyzed in OH, since an officer exhibited deadly force for speeding. You can youtube that one, its pretty sick that we have officers on any force that would use deadly force without a thought, and if you tell a motorcyclist to get down, how do you propose he does that without putting the bike in gear and on the kick stand? And unless you are videotaping or recording every time you ever get stopped its their words against you, and most of them think they are better than you, and using any record against you is pretty biased as many young people make mistakes they learn from, so some A-hole pulling you over uses past things against you, how is that lawful? I have only had a couple good encounters with our protectors and I am an honor student in college who works hard for the American dream, a house, car, and some money in the bank. And often to many uneducated cops don't know the laws they are enforcing, just look up all the videos on open carry and freedom of speech, see people getting there rights violated, it will disgust you.
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    nymphetaminegore Aug 17, 2010 6:40 AM
    Sad to see so many people are still on their "**** the police" trip. I'll be a cop officially in a few months, I'm actually in the academy at the moment for a certain part of NY. Let me say this, just like any other person we will have bad days. If I just had a knife pulled on me, a bar brawl, two rapes, and a domestic abuse........I certainly won't be a nice guy if you give me lip or act smart. Hell I might just be an all out dick. Though I will try not to act like that there's no guarantee of it, because when the chips are down cops are human too. I've been sitting in the passenger seat of a patrol car every weekend for about 6 months now and I can tell you out of the hundreds of traffic stops 10% cop is a dick, 85% driver is a dick, 5% actual decent human beings.......have a nice day and open your perspectives ya ingrates.
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    jpmonk30 Jul 17, 2010 5:22 PM
    For the guy that said you cant be arested for having pills on you (tylenol) (Bullsh..) the cops can arrest you because they will say that without the bottle the pills could be dope I know this for a fact they certainally can detain you down at the cop shop I carry 2 differant pain meds the hard ones class A and I keep the lables in my wallet and the pills in a metal container Oxy, val, soma. now if the pills say what they are on the pill they probably wont arrest you but I have seen them do exactly that especially if you get ****** with the Man.
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    jpmonk30 Jul 17, 2010 4:48 PM
    what it takes to win in court is and I have won 3 out of 5 at one time in my life the *********** all about who is prepared better believe me like the cops I have learned many tricks that screw them up almost every time and the truth helps especially when you get a chance to ask the cop questions when he gets on the stand and never ask him a question u don't know the answer too, be polite in court and this is a great opening question, good morning officer and wait a few seconds and let him get relaxed, officer what was the first thing you did or said as soon asyoustopped first of all he generally wont remember unless he is a state trooper they write everthing down my point is for the question with bikers they usually pad you down for weapons right away most of the time and if your a patch holding biker and pads u down just think of how u can use that in court you talk about profiling. Jim
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    jpmonk30 Jul 17, 2010 4:07 PM
    I have been pulled over so many times u wouldn't believe it, now I am in my 60s and in a motorcycle club wearing my patch and if you folks would not believe the routine, hear this advise first just shut your mouth and be respectful and your chances of not getting cited is better now bieng in a club for 40 years I have only been ticketed about 8 to 10 times, in 40 years that's not bad especially when u have a fast bike, they have never ticketed me for D/driving. have drugs on u you deserve to be fuc..d with and will never let them search your car and have all your ID ready so if u are pulled over the cop hates to wait, better for u if u do that have your *************, if you wear a patch the cop has already did an NCIC on you before he pulls u over so u cant BS him, and if you have a passenger with u have a story pre- planned you get caught in a lie and they r good your assss is grasss, bottom line shut up, be respectful and promise him you will never sleep with his daughter anymore. Jim in Nevada
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    sexualist0802 Jul 15, 2010 3:09 PM
    I've had good and bad experiences with cops. But the bottom line is that a police force is a standing army--black or white, male or female, makes no difference--they are professional soldiers. And you can't have a free country with a standing army. All policemen aren't bad, many are probably sincere people who try to do a good job. But the existence of a massive standing army that has nothing better to do than harass people for the most minor infractions, that stands ready to enforce any law no matter how unjust is inherantly evil. Such a military institution must have a dehumanizing and brutalizing effect on all who participate in it. Our modern police forces are a cross between the Roman Pratorian Guard and the Samurai--a special priviledged class between us common folk and the very wealthy who need all the protection they can get for screwing the rest us over. There are too many police and too many laws. Stopping people for petty traffic violations is nothing but a giant extrotion racket which is forever getting worse because the rich don't pay their fair share of taxes ever since Ronald Reagan and all of the presidents who followed have given them a free ride. Better to end Reaganomics, give up the empire, spend more money on the benign functions of government like free public education, national single payer healthcare which should not be confused with the pathetic healthcare reform bill that was just passed, cut back on the oppressive parts of government and channel the legitimate functions of law enforcement into a part time militia that is only called upon when needed. To quote our fourth president, James Madison: "As the greatest danger to liberty is a standing army, it is best to prevent them by an effectual provision for a good militia."
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    of00000000008874 Jul 15, 2010 12:30 PM
    ttrucker is correct. No blow, no sobriety, no evidence. You cannot be convicted without evidence unless there is a cam that clearly shows you are impared. And, Laydeebleu is not correct about emergency room blood tests, at least she better not be. I've been in the emergency room bleeding with broken ribs, waiting 4 hours to get attention and I have insurance. I'll file a suit against the city and the hospital if I find someone is taken in that isn't injured that waits behind a stupid cop expecting to get someone in for a silly blood test, when there are people needing stitches. I was stopped and I wasn't asked to take a sobriety test. I was arrested for "suspicion" of being under the influence. The cop even said I was the most articulate and polite person he had arrested for that. I refused a breath test and was not taken anywhere for a blood test - hello, you can't be forced to take one; it is your right not to. Is driving a right? No, it is a priviledge as has been stated. But, not taking any form of a DUI test is your right not to; it is not their priviledge to test you - you must consent. Never take a test of any kind of you are stopped. Doing so will only incriminate you. Unless you can't walk, they cannot prove anything. By the way, my case was dismissed and all charges were dropped. Are all cops a$$holes? No, only most of them. All of the ones I have come in contact with were complete pricks- no exceptions, even just pasing one in the convenience store, they have such an attitude. They look at you as if you have a dime bag in your pocket or a gun under your seat. They want to destroy your life and will do so at any and every possilbe opportunity. I know they'll plant drugs in your car also because they did that to my friend who does not do drugs and no one else drives his car. We had both washed our cars that afternoon and I know there was nothing in there. I was there when he was stopped; I saw it. I told the cop I saw him pull the stuff out of his left hand pocket and put it under the driver's seat. I told him I would tell the DA to test the bag and his pocket for fibers. After threatening me, he said "you guys get back in and leave and I don't want to see you again". You know if there really had been drugs in there, he would not have let us go. I'm not saying the'll all do it, but I'd bet the number who will is staggering.
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    jimbeokie Jul 15, 2010 12:13 PM
    I USED to have respect for all police officers however after being stopped and ticketed for a ticket that was totally false I would not help ANY cop if he needed it!! I mean if he was on fire I wouldnt even piss on him to help put the fire out, nor would I try to put the fire out with an axe. They are nothing but turds and if you havent found that out yet be patient , you will. About 1 % are good cops the rest are straight out a holes. The judge WILL side with the cop and NOT YOU!!!!!!!!!
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    ralphnader2010 May 07, 2010 7:30 PM
    The police are asking people to be more respectful towards them they they need to stop falsifying police reports and lying to judges first. Then maybe people will be more respectful towards them and make the situation better. Case in point I was stopped at a light in Algonac, when an un-named Clay Township police officer (un-named only because of the small community and my wife is afraid of retribution from them) came up behind me. I was stopped at this light for almost the full length of the light when he came up behind me. Oh by the way he is a Clay twp police officer. I was outside his jurisdiction and minding my own business. After stopping for him to find out what was up he accused me of illegally passing in an area I wasn't in. I asked him to contact the Algonac police at which time I was refused. I notified him that if he wasn't I was going home to contact them myself. He followed me two and a half blocks to my home then once the Algonac police arrived he lied to them saying that he followed me never loosing line of sight on me, and had been pursuing me since the Harsen's Island ferry with lights and sirens. Then when we got to court he lied to the magistrate saying that he was on my bumper from nook road. He also told the Algonac police he wanted to arrest me for failing to stop. So the police want more cooperation when they pull people over, they need to take the first steps and stop lying and perjuring themselves and earn the respect of the community. They have come to believe that just because they have a uniform on they deserve respect. Respect is something that is earned. And if they want that respect they need to start policing their own and when there is a bad apple in the bunch straighten that individual out or get rid of them. Not all times are the fault of the person they pull over. There are times that it is the fault of the officer.
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    msk578 Apr 28, 2010 12:18 PM
    It just saddens me looking at a huge amount of these comments that people have no problem yelling at and then not trusting a police officer. Here's a tip for many of you here who don't quite have big enough brain cells: NOT ALL COPS ARE DICKS!!! It's the extreme few that make the majority which are good ones look bad. Yes, I have received tickets in the past and they are all legit and it was because I was breaking the law! I've been caught making an illegal left turn (right in front of a motorcycle cop no less), speeding 15 over the limit and careless driving, which is different than reckless driving. That was in my early 20s when I was going through a rebellious time. Now that I'm in my early 30s, I've mellowed out a bit on the road. But, do you people think it's even worth it to try to take on a cop? What could get you a few minutes of a delay on the side of a road and maybe a fine can quickly turn in to jailtime, court appearances and thousands of dollars of fines if you open your mouth the wrong way. Do you think it's worth it? No it's not fun to get pulled over, but it doesn't have to be nearly as bad as you people make it out to be as long as you COOPERATE and think twice before doing something that could put things into jeopardy! For the record, I have been pulled over twice by the Colorado State Patrol along I-70 in Eastern Colorado. Both times I was set free. First time it was going 85 in the 75 and he just told me to keep it at 80-81 because it was a holiday weekend. Second time it was because I was in the left lane a little too long (we have a left lane for passing only rule in rural areas of the state) and he just wanted to make sure I was aware and he let me go without running my info. Both troopers were very nice and showed empathy and compassion and even gave me their business cards. All the officers and troopers want is cooperation. As long as you cooperate with them, let them do their job, things will be so much better for you in the end. Also, you can avoid any conferentation with an officer of the law by OBEYING THE FLIPPIN LAW!!
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    laydeebleu Apr 09, 2010 12:41 AM
    To TTTrucker: if you refuse the field sobriety test, and the breathalyzer, they simply get a court order to draw your blood. They're on to your many ways of trying to delay this so that your blood alcohol level will go down, but you can't delay it long enough to matter. My ER frequently has to deal with drunks who think they can beat the system by refusing the field tests. We just draw their blood, which is a more secure test anyway, and off they go to jail. Idiots.
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    franksir1 Mar 17, 2010 3:42 PM
    I have had many experiences with traffic cops, some have given me tickets other have given me verbal warnings and one, after giving me a ticket told me to take it to court and that he would help get it tossed... which he did. Rule one... do unto others
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    tedhaegele Mar 16, 2010 12:16 AM
    Hey ttrucker74- I'll do the breathalyzer or the field sobriety tests. 'Cause if I'm behind the wheel I know I'm not gonna fail it. If I'm going out drinking, I don't drive.
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    jasonfz812 Feb 24, 2010 9:49 PM
    To TTrucker. You can lose your license for a year because driving is a right and not a privilege. Just because the judge restored your license when you were DUI doesn't mean its always that way. Maybe blowing the judge can get that done.
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    jasonfz812 Feb 24, 2010 9:47 PM
    To burkedragon, learn how to spell before you open your mouth. To manley, if you had read your drivers manual from your respective state, you'd know that you can get arrested for not signing a ************ not anyone's fault but your own, since your license arrived in a Cracker Jack box. And if you really believed he was wrong, you should have contacted Internal Affairs of the agency, sue the department and contact the media. You know the media would be all over it. But you didn't, because you were probably wrong.
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    peteabbott Feb 24, 2010 3:23 PM
    Keep your hands where the officer can see them. If it is night time, turn on your dome light. If you are armed, tell him that you have a gun and where it is. A lot of police cars have cameras that are recording your movements and you conversations, this protects you as well as the officer. Most of the time, the cop knows if you are a conceal and carry permit holder and also knows how many times you have been stopped in the past three years BEFORE he even approaches your car. This will effect how he treats you. The one that kills me is the Red light tickets from cameras. The yellow is very short and the ticket goes to the registared owner. Now that sucks.
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