Most motorists have experienced the sinking feeling of being pulled over by law enforcement. For those caught for speeding or another traffic violation, the conduct on the roadside can make a huge difference in how the Vermont traffic ticket resolves if you elect to challenge the ticket. In the event that you are pulled over by a police officer, there are five important things to avoid at all costs when the officer begins to approach your vehicle:
1) Do not make sudden movements while waiting for the officer to approach your window: Although these movements may seem innocent enough to you, such as shuffling around in your glove box to look for your insurance papers, these movements can make an officer uneasy when approaching the car. An uneasy officer is a grumpy officer, which is not a good start to the initial interaction.
2) Do not open the window just a crack so you can pass out your license and registration. Hiding something? An officer certainly will think so if you open the window just enough to pass out your documents. This suspicion could rise into something far more serious if an officer thinks they detect something else, such as the smell of alcohol or marijuana. If you have nothing to hide, show it by opening the window 100%.
3) Don’t ignore the officer’s initial greeting: Saying nothing when an officer comes to your vehicle and greets you is a big no-no. You don’t have to openly confess to committing a traffic violation, but you certainly can say hello and ask the officer how their day is, a sure-fire way to start your interaction off on the right foot and to put the officer at ease in figuring out how to deal with you.
4) Don’t argue the facts of the stop. Although the officer may in theory be wrong, the roadside is not the place to plead your case, it is a time to show professionalism and courtesy. Arguing the merits will increase the likelihood of a ticket. Also, keep in mind that the officer has some discretion in determining the fine, a way to ensure they do not cut you a financial break is to make a legal argument on the side of the road as to why the stop was unjustified.
5) Don’t tip your hand as to your intent to challenge the ticket: Want a way for the officer to remember you? Tell them that you will see them in Court, which is exactly what you don’t want to happen. An officer that does not show up for a ticket cannot prosecute it, which means a victory for you. Telling them on the roadside that you intend to challenge it, will make them much more likely to appear 30-90 days down the road when the Vermont Judicial Bureau sets the matter for a hearing.