Americans pay somewhere from $3.75 billion to $7.5 billion in traffic citations every year.
The average ticket costs $152, including fees, although rates vary substantially depending on the nature of the offense and the laws of the state. In any case, you certainly don't want a citation, so if you see flashing red-and-blue lights in your rearview mirror, you'd better be on your best behavior.
Police don't really want to give you a ticket, but it's their job. Fortunately, they're more than willing to help you keep your record clean, provided that you're willing to listen to some common-sense advice. Here are a few ways to improve your chances of driving away with a warning.
1. "Don't have a bad driving record."
Reddit user AlphaAgain contributed this no-nonsense tip. "I don't care how nice you are. You're not getting a break if you get two tickets a year."
Think you've got a pretty good record? Do the math. According to motorists.org, police issue somewhere between 25 and 50 million traffic tickets each year, and in total, there are about 196 million licensed drivers. If you have two or more citations within a single 12-month period, you're probably doing something wrong.
2. Don't admit guilt.
If you admit you were breaking the law, it makes it real easy for a law enforcement officer to punish you for doing so.
Now, don't go thinking you should plead the fifth as soon as an officer walks up to your car, but recognize that you're not on the stand when police approach you. You don't have to "tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
Don't confuse this with feeding an officer a lie—they'll see through that instantly.
Instead, say something like, "I suppose it's possible that I might have been speeding." Better yet, comment on how you had your eyes on the road and you were just keeping up with the flow of traffic.
3. Remember: you're not special.
This is a good rule of thumb for life: if you want someone to be nice to you, don't be a jerk towards that person.
Acting like a prima donna is no way to gain sympathy from a police officer. Saying things like, "Don't you know who I am?" or acting condescending towards a cop makes it really easy for them to return the favor and treat you with the same amount of respect that you have just shown them.
4. Ask for a warning.
Hey, it never hurts to ask. The key here is to be grateful and friendly.
As one cop who posted on Reddit under an account that's since been deleted says, "We're not required to write a certain amount [of tickets] or write one for every stop. Some officers like to write more and dodge calls...and some like to write fewer because they actually prefer going on calls (I'm in this group). But barring specific circumstances, the officer is generally free to decide for himself if an offense will get a ticket or a warning, and what kind of ticket."
You might get lucky. Treat the officer with respect, recognize their humanity, and politely ask you can get off with a warning just this once. Swear that you'll never break the speed limit (or whatever) again. It really could work.
5. Join the force.
The police officers of Reddit admit that they may extend a little "professional courtesy" to their off-duty colleagues.
"I don't like doing it, but there's a chance I may have to work with said officer at some point or be in their jurisdiction and I don't want them to have an
So there you have it. If you really want to get out of a ticket, sign up at the Police Academy. They're always looking for talented young applicants.
6. Wave when you see a cop on the highway.
If you're going a few miles per hour over the speed limit and you see a police officer, don't jam on the brakes, as that could endanger other drivers. Let off the gas and allow the vehicle to slow, then wave at the officer.
Why? Remember, cops are human. According to Reader's Digest, many police will see a friendly wave as a sign that you're acknowledging your mistake, and they'll likely let you go.
7. Be considerate, polite, and friendly.
As we've mentioned, there are human beings inside those blue suits. Human beings are social animals, and we all tend to treat people better when they treat us well.
Just take Redditor b8le's word for it. This writer shared a story of being pulled over for going 65 miles per hour on a feeder road. The police officer pulled him over and wrote a ticket.
The user then started a polite conversation. We'll let b8le take it from there:
"Then I asked him how he even got my speed because his car was parked facing the direction I was going. And he said that there were radar detectors in the back window. We then we got into a conversation and
A little common human kindness can go a long way. Of course, this probably won't work if you're being obviously manipulative. Time to start practicing that loving kindness stuff everywhere you go.
8. Give a clear impression that you're not going to drive the same way.
It's gonna be different for every officer," wrote one Reddit user. "For me, the best way is to be polite, admit what you did without being asked, and for the love of God don't be in the middle of doing other illegal s*** when I walk up.
"I hate writing tickets and I hate going to traffic court. The idea is for you to not do that dangerous thing you just did that made me pull you over. If I get the impression we can skip all [that] and you'll drive away actually not doing that anymore, I'd rather not write the ticket and go our separate ways.
"That being said, if I see you cut across multiple lanes without using a signal in order to leapfrog traffic, you're getting the ticket 100 percent of the time. I know you're a [jerk] who is going to keep doing that because you feel you're the most important person on the road."
9. Don't try to bribe the officer.
For one, most officers wouldn't accept a bribe, but in many cases, they couldn't if they wanted to—they've got active badge cams, dash cams, and other recording devices watching their every move.
One Reddit user told this story from when he pulled over an unregistered vehicle.
"They tried to offer me money. Behind me was a very large group of students watching on. All of them had access to my microphone to hear what was going on. I tried to explain this to the driver. He simply wouldn't listen or didn't understand. Not that it would have made a difference, but I would have preferred to avoid having to arrest him for a stupid mistake. He ended up getting arrested for a range of charges."