One of the questions I’m most often asked is, “How do I beat my speeding ticket?” What if I told you there was a way to avoid getting a speeding ticket in the first place based on how you behaved when you were pulled over. A brand new study out of Canada by two professors Martin Day and Michael Ross of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, suggests that the single best thing you can do to avoid getting a speeding ticket is to apologize to the officer when he or she comes over to your car. No, seriously. Check out this research that proves it.
The study, published in the American Psychological Association’s “Law and Human Behavior,” cited federal statistics that show that 55 percent of all traffic stops are for speeding violations. They evaluated whether the actions of the driver could determine if they received a speeding ticket or were let off with a warning. And, further, if the driver did get the speeding ticket, whether their behavior affected the amount of the fine. Did nicer behavior translate to a lower fine?
The researchers broke down the responses given to police into four basic types:
- admitting it and including a statement of remorse (I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have been going that fast)
- making an excuse (I have to go to the bathroom)
- justifying it (I was just speeding up to pass that person)
- denial (no way, my car doesn’t go that fast)
The study followed over 500 responses given to the police and a trend emerged. Those individuals that admitted to speeding AND expressed remorse were able to avoid getting the ticket altogether or have their costs reduced (by the officer citing them for a lower speed which is cheaper). According to the authors, “Expressions of remorse were associated with a reduction in ticket costs and a greater likelihood of receiving a warning rather than a fine.” If you are interested in reading the complete study, it can be found here in the June issue of Law and Human Behavior.
Having practiced as a traffic ticket attorney for over 15 years and being involved in over 1,000,000 citations, I can tell you, my clients have been saying for years that honesty is the best policy. In other words, the times they have been able to “get out of a speeding ticket” have been because they were honest in admitting it and apologized for it. I always thought that the police officers were so shocked to hear someone telling them the truth and admit that they were speeding, that it was refreshing and they decided not to write the ticket. Now there is research to back up what my clients have been saying for years. Go figure.