The 12 Worst Things You Should Never Say to a Police Officer When You Get Pulled Over

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The next time you get pulled over, make sure to avoid these 12 statements that are guaranteed to escalate the situation.
Updated April 11, 2024
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police stopped a man in car and is interrogating him

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You’ve just been pulled over and you’re desperate to get out of the ticket. Is there anything you can say to the police officer to avoid money stress and reduce your chances of paying a fine?

Short of going back in time and driving the speed limit — no, there’s not much you can do to get out of it. However, there are a few things you should never say to an officer who pulled you over.

Why are you pulling me over?

Framestock/Adobe frustrated men pulled over by a cop talking on walkie talkie

Once you’ve been pulled over, the police officer should approach the driver’s side window and calmly request your driver’s license and vehicle registration. It’s wise to let the officer start the conversation, and hopefully, they’ll do so in a straightforward, polite fashion.

Starting with a question of your own, like “why did you pull me over? I wasn’t doing anything wrong,” comes across as defensive and can put both you and the officer in a state of heightened tension.

Don’t you have real crimes to investigate?

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe african american man explaining to police officers

Again, you never want to start an interaction with a police officer with a hostile tone or defensive stance, and telling a cop they’re wasting their time on you checks both boxes.

For one thing, you shouldn’t imply that the officer isn’t doing their “real” job. For another, breaking the speed limit or violating another traffic law is a real crime that can seriously endanger other people.

My taxes pay for your job and benefits

Photographee.eu/Adobe a man giving explanations to a road police

Police officers already know they’re working a government job funded by taxpayers, so you don’t need to go out of your way to remind them.

And for better or worse, the nature of our social contract is that taxpayers are exactly who the cops are paid to police.

I have a lot of political connections, you know

moodboard/Adobe an old man in conversation with a traffic police who is writing ticket

It doesn’t matter if the mayor is your best friend, your niece is the sheriff, or you’re the governor of the state yourself. Trying to use political connections to talk your way out of a ticket is unethical at best.

More importantly, it’s not at all likely to get you out of paying a fine. If anything, it’ll put the officer who arrested you on the defensive — which we’ve already established is the worst move you can make when you’ve been pulled over.

You can search my car. I have nothing to hide

AntonioDiaz/Adobe a man pulled over by two cops and investigating his car trunk

Per the Fourth Amendment, a police officer needs your consent to search you or your property unless they have reason to believe you’re endangering others.

If the officer searches you or your car without your consent, you have grounds to contest your charges in court. But if you consent upfront to a search, you waive your right to contest the search’s legality after the fact.

Additionally, if a cop asks for your permission to frisk you or search your car, they might be asking because they know they don’t have probable cause for the search. If you consent, however, they don’t need probable cause.

Even if you don’t have anything to hide, it’s better to protect yourself legally by requiring the officer to go through the proper legal channels to conduct a search.

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Answering ‘yes’ when an officer asks, ‘Do you know why I pulled you over?

Framestock/Adobe a man talking on cellphone in car pulledover by cop

You’ve heard that anything you say can and will be used against you? That extends to a simple “yes” in response to a police officer’s initial question.

Acknowledging that you know why you were pulled over means you know you were breaking the law. That admission of guilt can (and probably will) be used against you if you try to fight your ticket or charge in court.

Arguing when the officer tells you why they pulled you over

Fractal Pictures/Adobe frustrated couple giving explanations to a black cop

Maybe you weren’t actually breaking the rules of the road when you got pulled over, but now isn’t the time to fight with the officer who stopped you. Instead, save it for the court.

Telling a police officer you weren’t speeding and they clocked you at the wrong time isn’t going to get you out of the ticket. Since it sounds defensive (or even aggressive), it might make the officer double down on your charge.

But I only had one drink

pavel_shishkin/Adobe a man posing hands up in car with mirror down holding a bottle in hand

Saying you “only” had one drink or you were “only” going five miles over the speed limit isn’t the defense you think it is. It’s much more like saying “yes” when you’re asked if you know why you got pulled over.

Admitting you had a drink or broke the speed limit is an admission of guilt that can be used against you in court.

Trying to tell a joke or downplay the situation

Studio615/Adobe a man in drivers seat talking to a cop on a cycle

Trying to joke around with an officer who pulled you over might be better than getting upset with them … but not by much. Remember, your goal in an encounter like this is to be as calm, clear, and collected as possible.

Plus, making light of the reason why you were pulled over won’t exactly endear you to a cop who stopped you for violating the law.

Saying anything more than absolutely necessary

rh2010/Adobe cop checking id of a young female driver

In some states, you’re required to give an officer your name if they pull you over. In most states, though, you aren’t legally obligated to give an officer any information at all.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t say anything when an officer approaches your car (though there are some situations where that could be the safest course of action).

Your goal for the interaction should be to stay safe and calm, which means you can respond politely to the officer’s questions and comments. Just make sure not to say more than you need to.

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Lying

Fractal Pictures/Adobe young woman pleading to a police officer

We can’t emphasize this enough: It’s a terrible idea to try to lie to a cop. For starters, you probably aren’t lying as convincingly as you think you are. For another, any lies you tell will come back to haunt you in court.

Lying can make a bad situation worse. Remember, you don’t have to answer a question just because a police officer asks. It’s much safer to stay silent, especially if the alternative is lying.

Insulting the officer

moodboard/Adobe blonde woman officer talking to a young man

Maybe the officer who pulled you over is being rude and belligerent, or maybe you’re just having a really bad day. Either way, insulting the officer isn’t going to fix their attitude or help you dodge the ticket.

Even worse, it could make the situation even tenser than it already is. Don’t add more fuel to the fire. Be as courteous as you can given the circumstances.

Bottom line

moodboard/Adobe young female driver pulled back by an elderly cop on a road

No one enjoys being pulled over. Getting a ticket can ruin your mood and your day and make you feel like you’re throwing money away. Taking any of the actions listed here is guaranteed to make the entire situation worse.

Try to be polite and calm while volunteering the minimum amount of information, and don’t worry about trying to fight a ticket as you’re being written up. It’s better (and safer) to wait for your day in court.

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Author Details

Michelle Smith Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.

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