Last week, I was pulled over for speeding for the first time.
It was such a nerve-wracking experience, and I'm sure the police officer could sense my unease, which didn't really help my case.
After getting slapped with a $150 fine, I couldn't sleep, thinking about all things I should have said and done.
This led me to ask my friends who are police officers for advice and do some research online to figure out ways to avoid a speeding ticket.
I know many people who have dodged these hefty fines, and there are actually super simple steps you can follow to save yourself hundreds of dollars.
1. Maintain your car
You know the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover?" Too bad that saying doesn't apply in law enforcement.
If you're speeding, the first thing an officer will do is judge the vehicle you're driving. Then when they're approaching your car, they'll judge the inside.
If your car looks like it's been through a lot, is covered in graffiti and questionable bumper stickers, or the inside is cluttered with garbage and clothes, an officer will have already decided whether you're getting a ticket or a warning, before you even have a chance to open your mouth.
2. Always keep your car's registration in the glove compartment
This may be a no-brainer to some people, but you can't imagine how many stories I've heard from police officer friends who have stopped a vehicle only for the driver to realize that they forgot to store their car's registration in the vehicle.
If an officer perceives you as forgetful, they might think that you're going to "forget" to abide by the law again.
And if you have a valid registration, but it's not up to date, then you may run into another fine, or you may get your car towed.
3. Right when the sirens go off, wave to the officer
When an officer is trying to get your attention to pull over, always wave hello to acknowledge his or her presence in a friendly manner.
This will also let the officer know that you're going to slow down and find a safe area to stop your vehicle.
Waving has always been a sign of respect and friendship, and when an officer feels comfortable to approach your vehicle, you reduce your chances of getting stuck with a hefty fine.
4. Be polite right off the bat
An officer wants to size up your character, so make a good impression.
When that officer comes by your window, greet them and ask how they are.
“A lot of the time when people make small talk and have somewhat of a conversation it humanizes the people were dealing with and makes it harder for us to give someone a ticket," an officer on Reddit wrote.
Avoid apologizing for speeding and that you'll never do it again (because it's not the first time they've heard that before!).
Also, avoid telling them what your excuse is, unless you have a critically ill passenger.
5. Don't give too much information
If you're the type of person who can't stop talking when stressed, you'll have to try your best to hold your tongue when you get pulled over.
When an officer asks you a question, give them an honest response.
Phrases like "Please speak to my lawyer" and "Do you know who I am" will only land you in court.
6. Ask for permission
Make sure both hands are on the steering wheel, unless you've been directed otherwise.
There have been many instances where roadside stops have gone wrong, so you must show officers that you're willing to cooperate.
Always ask permission to get your wallet and reach into your glove box for your registration.
That way, they'll know what your second move is and will feel much more at ease.
7. Ask for a warning
Police officers are human, and each one is going to be different from the other.
As a general rule, don't admit guilt, but if you must apologize, and ask for a warning.
If you're polite and your car's up to date, you have a good chance of avoiding that hefty fine.
8. Don't distract them
Some people try to be overly polite by offering officers food or praising their hard work, but that's only seen as a distraction from the issue at hand.
9. Avoid these trigger phrases
"That guy was going way faster than me" or "I wasn't even going that fast" won't help your cause.
More polite versions like "I have no idea how fast I was going" and "This has never happened to me before" aren't going to do you much good either.
10. If you do end up with a ticket, follow this tip
If you follow these steps and still end up with a ticket, don't fret.
Police officers stop many people, and it's unlikely that they'll remember who you are when your court date comes around.
The tip here is to go to court more than a month after you get your ticket.
You'll be able to build up a defense by that time, and there may even be a chance that the officer has transferred to a different department or just doesn't show up for your court date.
That means your charges will be dropped and you're a few hundreds of dollars richer!