How not to get a ticket

Before I wrote this article, I had the intention of calling it “How To: get out of a ticket.” You know, by having little tricks up your sleeve, you can talk, plead, or cry your way out of a ticket. Like having a water bottle handy in the car and making it look like you had an “accident,” which is the reason you were speeding. Or blinking your big doe eyes and flashing a little leg. Or just bursting into tears and hoping the policeman takes pity on your soul. I personally have gotten pulled over twice in my life, and gotten away with two warnings. Driving with my lights off at midnight (I forgot to turn them on!) and making an illegal U-turn on a median (I was in a hurry!) might not have been the smartest things to do, but when I got pulled over, I was genuinely sorry and scared and I think all of my officers detected that. I was just lucky.

This article was going to be on how to get out of a ticket, but after going down to the police station and interviewing a police officer on the subject, he dispelled all of my ticketing myths and told me a lot of helpful things on how to avoid getting pulled over in the first place. At least, more helpful then trying to teach yourself to cry on command, which might be a little harder and embarrassing for the guys.

His answer to my first busted myth question will probably upset a few people. When I asked if the old, “Oh, hello, officer” line ever works on policemen, I was a little disappointed, because I’ve always wanted to use it. Just kidding. Maybe.

“We do not care that there are young, hot college girls on campus,” Crime Prevention Officer Michael Pohto said. “Almost every officer here is married. I am married. They are all too young, and we really don’t care. We pull them over and they bat their eyelashes, but they don’t get any special treatment or bearing, especially if they put someone’s life in danger.”

When asked about speeding tickets, he said there were two different ways to detect if someone is going too fast. “We have two devices to detect speeding,” Pohto said. “One is a radar. It sends out a signal of how fast the cars are going towards you, and away from you. The other is a laser, which we use more often and is more accurate. We point it at the vehicle, and it tells us the estimated speed that the car is going.”

If a student gets pulled over, they do have the right to be let on their way in a timely manner, and their car cannot be searched if there is no reason for it. However, you must provide a valid license, registration and insurance card. You also can’t leave before the officer tells you that you can.

Since I was curious to know if more tickets were given out around campus for traffic violations or speeding, the officer was able to spell it out clearly.

“Traffic violations. The top things we see here are failures to come to a full and complete stop at stop signs or red lights, not paying attention to road signs, and just not paying attention to your surroundings in general,” Pohto said. “A lot of freshmen have that problem. The first few days of school, we’re usually lenient because some people are just getting used to it, but after that, everyone needs to be aware of their surroundings.”

If you think you were wrongly pulled over and accused of speeding or a traffic violation, you can always dispute it in court by challenging the officer’s subjective conclusion, or saying that your conduct was a mistake of fact, legally justified, or done in order to avoid harm. However, when you endanger the lives of others, it is something very serious and can’t be taken lightly.

“When I pull a student over, I already know in my head whether or not I’m going to ticket them or not, even though I haven’t been to their car yet,” Pohto said. “If you maybe coast through a stop sign somewhere with no people around, then you’ll probably just get a lecture and a warning. However, if I see a driver put another vehicle or person in danger, you will get a ticket.”

With all that being said, most students at FSU get pulled over very frequently, and they are also good people to take helpful tips from.

“I didn’t know what the speed limit was, and when I got pulled over I just told the officer that I was really, really sorry and I acted very unaware, and I got a warning,” Florida State University sophomore Nick Thompson said. “Ignorance is key.”

Drawing attention to yourself when driving is never a good idea, and I don’t mean making obscene gestures at cute officers.

“You should never be the fastest driver on the road, because the fastest car is the one officers will be most suspicious of, whether you are speeding or not,” FSU sophomore Logan Doughtie said. “Just go at a middling pace and be conscious of what you are doing.”

Ivy Jacobson FSView ‘ Florida Flambeau Florida State University U-Wire<