Beating a traffic ticket begins the second you get pulled over. As traffic attorneys in Atlanta, we know that how you behave with the law enforcement officer goes a long way toward determining whether you will get off with a warning, issued a ticket or even worse.

Getting Pulled Over

When you see the flashing lights, pull over immediately where the officer can approach safely. Many people, knowing that they will have to produce their license, registration and insurance card, start digging around their car immediately. Don’t do that! The officer does not know you. For all he or she knows, you could be rummaging around for a weapon. In this scenario the officer may run your license plate first to make sure that you are not in a stolen vehicle, or otherwise a threat. While waiting for that information, he or she is probably going to start writing up your citation.

Instead, when you pull over, turn off your engine and put your hands on the steering wheel or somewhere the officer can see them. If it is dark out, turn on your interior lights so that you can be easily seen. If you do not appear to be a threat, an officer is more likely to approach you right away.

When the officer asks for your license and other documents, be sure to say where they are (glove compartment, purse, etc.) before you reach for anything. Do not make sudden, unexplained moves.

When the officer asks if you know why you were pulled over, answer politely that you do not. Do not admit guilt because it may not even be what you think. Anything you admit to will make it harder to contest the ticket. Do not make up a story, either. Not admitting guilt does not mean arguing with the officer. By being polite and cooperative, you could get a lesser citation or none at all.

When You Receive a Ticket

If you see that you are not going to get out of a ticket, ask the officer if you can handle it by mail. If it doesn’t seem like you will go to court, he or she may take fewer notes, which will help you in the long run. It will also help if you don’t cause a fuss or do anything to leave a lasting impression because by the time you get to court, he or she will be less likely to recall your specific incident.

The officer will likely wait to leave until you pull away so get moving quickly, but as soon as possible, write down everything about the stop, such as traffic and road conditions, weather and any other extenuating circumstances. If there is something relevant to your defense that you can photograph, do so, and make sure there is a date and time on the photo.

To Fight or not to Fight

The code number on the ticket indicates what you were cited for. Find out what the fine will be and the number of points that will go on your record.

Find out when you need to appear in court if you plan to contest the ticket. For most minor violations, your ticket will give you the option to pay the fine. In almost all jurisdictions, payment is an admission of guilt, so do not send a payment if you plan to fight the citation.

Weigh the cost of fighting the ticket against the chances of getting it dismissed or reduced. Our Atlanta traffic lawyers have a 90 percent record of success. Remember that Georgia does not offer traffic school as an alternative to paying a fine or having points added to your license.

Of course, we would prefer that everyone drives safely, and avoids getting pulled over at all. However, we know that in Atlanta, traffic tickets are sometimes unavoidable. That is why we are here to help.