Conduct that won’t help you in a Vermont traffic stop

As a lawyer practicing extensively in traffic court, I have had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of law enforcement officers regarding the circumstances of their stop of an individual for a traffic violation.  Most of the time these interactions are pleasant and professional.  However, from time to time, officers will relay to me important information as to the conduct of the motorist they issued a traffic ticket to, which goes directly toward their disposition in settling the case fairly.  Below are a few of the most important things not to do as relayed directly from the officer.

  1. They begged me to not write them a ticket:  Being pulled over by an officer can be a stressful situation.  The officer, who has written hundreds if not thousands of these tickets, knows that this interaction may be less then cordial.  However, when they are forced to defend themselves because a motorist is pleading with them not to write them a ticket, it puts them in a very difficult situation.  Thus, in response to the begging, a law enforcement officer may just put on their professional face and go through the motions of writing the ticket to avoid excessive contact with the motorist.  Tip: Take your medicine on the roadside, be polite, accept the ticket and then see what can be done to reduce or dismiss the ticket at a later time.
  2. Asking to see the radar:  An officer is not obligated to show a motorist their radar gun at the roadside during a Vermont speeding ticket stop.  This would prolong the stop and put the officer and motorist at further risk.  Especially on the highway, but also on winding Vermont roads, officers do not want to be exposed to oncoming traffic for any longer then they have to.  Requesting to look at the radar may only put the officer on the defensive, which may hurt your chances of catching a break later on.  Tip: If you feel the radar was inaccurate, save the argument for the courtroom, not the roadside.
  3. Aggressively denying that you were speeding:  If an officer is pulling you over, its because they believe that they have reason to do so.  If they are pulling you over for speeding, it is nearly a certainty that the officer has a reasonable belief that you were in fact speeding.  99% of Vermont law enforcement officers are good people, performing a tough job to the best of their ability.  Thus, if a motorist sits on the roadside and vehemently denies that they were speeding, this will not help their chances, as an officer may take it as a statement against their professionalism without just cause.  Instead, to protect your rights, it is better to not answer at all or to simply state that you were not sure how fast you were traveling.  Tip:  By the time the officer goes back to his cruiser after gathering your identification documents, it is likely that they have already made up their mind as to whether they will be writing you a ticket.  Do not expect that you will get a break by making your case on the roadside.

The issuance of a Vermont traffic ticket is only the start of the legal process if a motorist chooses to contest the charge.  Thus, it is important to not paint yourself in a corner by performing acts that are contrary to resolving your case.  The above three examples are just a few of the acts motorists have committed that have effected their chance are receiving a favorable disposition to their case.

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