South Florida is known for its sun, sand, and speeding tickets. If you look in your rearview mirror to see the flashing red and blue lights of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office (PBSO), Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), or any other police car, the following are some tips from Defender Donahue Law PLLC on how to make the best of the situation:
When Pulled Over For A Traffic Stop, Be Polite.
Have you ever heard the old proverb “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?” It means that it is much easier to get what you want by being polite rather than by being rude.
When you are pulled over, its natural to feel afraid, angry, and upset. However, you have to remember that your attitude may be the difference between you receiving a warning or a traffic infraction ticket. The police officer has all of the power and discretion in the situation. Take a deep breath, be calm, and when the officer knocks on your window, be kind, courteous, and polite. This is not the time for arguing or an explanation, save that for your lawyer in court.
Furthermore, an attitude can cause the traffic stop to escalate. It helps your case if the police officer does not have of strong memory of you or your traffic stop.
When Pulled Over For A Traffic Stop, Be Prepared.
When you are pulled over, the officer may ask for “license, registration, and insurance.” Be prepared to give the officer your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance.
Drivers License: When driving in Florida, the law requires that you need to carry a driver’s license any time you’re behind the wheel. You may have heard “An officers can just look you up.” However under Fla. Stat. 322.15 (1), Florida drivers are legally required to carry their license.
The Florida statute states:
(1) Every licensee shall have his or her driver license, which must be fully legible with no portion of such license faded, altered, mutilated, or defaced, in his or her immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle and shall present or submit the same upon the demand of a law enforcement officer or an authorized representative of the department. A licensee may present or submit a digital proof of driver license as provided in s. 322.032 in lieu of a physical driver license.
Registration: When you are pulled over, be prepared to give the officer your vehicle registration.
When driving in Florida, the law requires that you need to carry your vehicle registration any time you’re behind the wheel. Under Fla. Stat. 320.02 (1), “every owner or person in charge of a motor vehicle that is operated or driven on the roads of this state shall register the vehicle in this state.”
Insurance: When you are pulled over, be prepared to give the officer your vehicle insurance. In Florida, you must carry proof of current insurance whenever you drive. Under Fla. Stat. 627.736, the minimum requirements for car insurance coverage are $10,000 for personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 for property damage liability (PDL). PIP covers injuries you may incur in a car accident, regardless of who is at fault. PDL covers your liability if you damage property belonging to someone else in a car accident.
When Pulled Over For A Traffic Stop, Be Brief.
When you are pulled over, the officer may ask “Do you know why I stopped you?” or “Do you know how fast you were going?” You may be tempted to answer of the officer’s question with a long explanation of why you were speeding, but you are better off being brief with your response. If you admit you committed the violation, anything you say can and will be held against you. The less you say, the less the police officer can use against you in a court of law.
When Pulled Over For A Traffic Stop, Sign the Ticket.
You may have heard by signing the ticket, you are admitting guilt. However, signing the traffic ticket is not an admission of guilt. In fact, the bottom of the ticket has the following language:
“I agree and promise to comply and answer to the charges and instructions specified in this citation. Willful refusal to accept and sign the citation may result in arrest. I understand my signature is not admission of guilt or waiver of rights.”
Simply put, your signature is an acknowledgement that you received the traffic citation from the police officer. By signing you are not admitting guilt or waiving any rights. You are agreeing to comply with one of the options on the ticket, and if you don’t, the State can suspend your license.
Furthermore, I recommend that you sign the traffic ticket to avoid the possible serious consequence of refusing to sign it. Fla. Stat. 318.14 (3) makes it a second degree misdemeanor for any person to willfully refuse to accept and sign a summons for a violation requiring a mandatory hearing or any other criminal traffic violation.
Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR):
When Pulled Over For A Traffic Stop
- Be polite so you do not escalate the situation.
- Be prepared to give the officer your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance.
- Be brief in your responses to the officer’s questions so you do not incriminate yourself.
- Sign the traffic ticket to avoid the possible serious consequence of refusing to sign it.
Defender Donahue Law PLLC represents clients accused of traffic infractions. If you are facing a traffic ticket in Palm Beach County, contact me, Patrick C. Donahue, Esq. to discuss the facts of your particular case. To schedule a free and confidential consultation about your traffic case, call my cell phone (561) 888-0113, send me an email PCDEsq@gmail.com, or use my Contact Form.