What do police officers say are the things that make them more or less likely to give a ticket to a speeding driver?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and get insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
My gauge was always reasonableness.
If your license plate tags expired one month ago, I can see you not noticing and would probably cut you a break. If they expired one year ago, not so much.
If I pull you over for plates expired months ago, and you say, "I've been trying to get money together so I could renew them," but there are $300 worth of cigarette butts in the ashtray and the backseat is full of bags from the mall, you're getting a ticket.
If you don't have insurance, you're almost certainly getting a ticket. People who didn't want to pay for insurance figured if they could get less than three tickets a year, they could get out of paying a premium and just pay their insurance fine, which would actually be less expensive since they were high risk. I never gave them the satisfaction.
I never really ran radar, so I didn't write many speeding tickets - maybe four or five over three years. Even then, they were all for going at least twenty miles an hour over the limit (or speeding while they were drunk). Every officer has a magic number. One of my colleagues' was, "Twelve [mph] over you're fine, thirteen and you're mine." Now, some officers' magic numbers may be one, so don't bank on any kind of window. I never nailed one down, but probably would have if I ever did traffic enforcement.
If you're driving drunk, you're getting so many tickets. I've personally written as many as eight to one person after one incident, and a colleague in another agency (with a more permissive pursuit policy) once wrote 36 after a drunk driving pursuit. I have seen so many dead bodies lying on asphalt because of drunk drivers. No mercy.
The answer from the officer in the UK has some good insights - especially the bit about asking me why I'm not finding 'actual criminals.' But ladies, don't count on sexing the situation up to dodge a ticket. I've written lots of citations to women with heaving cleavage who had obviously fussed with their blouse prior to my approach. What favor am I currying by not writing a ticket? There is absolutely nothing in it for me in that scenario. It's not like just giving a warning is going to prompt her to go ahead and peel her top off. I'm not saying it would never work on anyone, but it didn't go anywhere with me.
In any situation where a citation issuance was in the cards, I honestly tried to put myself in the shoes of the driver. Where are they coming from? Where are they going? Would I have noticed the same thing on my car? Would I go that fast off-duty? I tried to be very fair with my citations, and I like to think that if I ever gave you one, you could at least admit how I saw it was necessary. Some officers issued them indiscriminately, but I tried to, again, just be reasonable.
If I saw or heard some reference to a radar detector being in the car, I wrote the ticket every time. A radar detector sent me the message that "I intend to exceed the speed limit and get away with it."
To many of my colleagues, if they stopped you, you were already 98% certain to get a ticket. I did not look at it that way (once my rookieness wore off).
I ran a lot of radar. It was like fishing. I ran it were the speed limits were prominently posted, and where it made a difference (residential or high traffic areas). Some guys didn't like to make traffic stops, but I did. It was a very good way to make good arrests, and I was highly visible.
I would usually not even stop a car unless it was 15 miles over the posted limit. I found that was usually the magic number between drivers knowing they were speeding and when they didn't. I did not get too many arguments, but now and then there was some heat.
As said by others here, I had zero tolerance with drunk drivers. I did not sit outside bars at closing time, but if I stopped you and you failed the sobriety tests, you were under arrest. If you passed the sobriety tests, but I still felt you should not be driving, I would try to convince you to let me drive you home, or at least get someone else to do so. I was usually successful at this. People got the hint pretty well.
The driver's attitude was a huge factor. If I stopped you and the first thing you said was, "Don't you have anything better to do?" you could expect a ticket. If you knew you were wrong and expected a warning, that didn't work either. In my opinion, warnings are for people who don't know what they are doing is wrong.
If you were reasonable, and the infraction was not reckless or dangerous to others, you'd usually get a break from me. Once. I had a long memory.
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