Holiday Driving Tips: How to Play Nice When Suspected of Being Naughty

The holiday season signals good cheer…and more police officers on the road. If you see flashing blue lights in your rearview mirror this month, remember to play nice.

With more and more drivers on the road each holiday season, police officers are forced to amp up efforts to curtail risky driving behavior. Our holiday driving tips are the same as always: buckle up, use caution, stick to the rules of the road, and don’t drink and drive.

Related: Cops Tell All: The Top 4 Ways to Get Pulled Over

But if (Santa forbid!) an officer happens to suspect you of some other naughty driving practice and pulls you over, here are a few tips for safely navigating a stressful situation:

  1. Take a deep breath. Remain calm. It might be difficult to relax given the circumstances, but a calm demeanor and a friendly smile can make a difference. At the very least, a positive attitude can make the incident go more smoothly.
  2. Put on your hazard lights. This lets the police officer know that you’re planning to pull over.
  3. Pull over to a safe place as soon as possible. Generally, it’s recommended that you pull over to the right-hand side of the road, but if you’re on a busy street or highway, this may not be safe. Use good judgment and pull over only where it’s safe to do so.
  4. Stay in your car and wait for instructions. It may take a moment for the officer to get your license plate info before approaching you and providing instructions on what to do next. Be patient and wait calmly.
  5. Keep your hands visible. Keep your hands in plain sight (at 10 and 2 on the wheel) to signal that there’s nothing (literally or figuratively) up your sleeve.
  6. Provide info when asked. Make sure that you have your drivers license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance with you. (If you’re an Esurance customer, you can print copies of your insurance cards online whenever you want.)
  7. Don’t argue or pick fights. Whatever you do, don’t make things difficult for yourself or the police officer. You’ll generally get a better response if you’re polite and respectful. Remember, you’ll have your chance to fight the citation in court if you feel you’re in the right, but arguing with an officer is not likely to do you much good.
  8. Don’t admit guilt. By admitting guilt, you forfeit your right to contest the potential ticket in court. It’s no joke; anything you say could and might be used against you.

By being a safe, cautious driver, you can usually avoid being pulled over, but if you see blue lights in your rearview mirror, remember to stay calm and to play nice this holiday season.

Helpful winter driving tips

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Refresh your winter driving know-how with these time-tested tips

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24 Responses to “Holiday Driving Tips: How to Play Nice When Suspected of Being Naughty”

  1. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    December 11, 2014 #

    I was pulled over and the first question I asked the officer was if HE FELT SAFE WHERE WE WERE…… This went a long way to diffuse the situation and have the officer understand one of his concerns.

  2. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    Donald Ciaciuch
    December 13, 2014 #

    Add #9 to that list. "Never consent to a search of your vehicle or your person."

    • Avatar for Anne Le Tran
      December 25, 2014 #

      If you don't consent won't they just hold you there assuming you're guilty of something as they get a warrent?

    • Avatar for Anne Le Tran
      December 27, 2014 #

      Put ur hands-on steering wheel!

  3. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    Matt H
    December 16, 2014 #

    If the officer asks you "Do you know how fast you were going?" or "Do you know why I pulled you over?" Say "no" even if you do. Saying anything else could incriminate yourself.

    • Avatar for Anne Le Tran
      December 17, 2014 #

      got pulled over and accused of doing 85 in 55mph zone. Argued with officer that I was in a line of traffic all moving at the same speed and that I was not doing over 60. Guess what? I got a ticket for doing 60. Court costs were same as if I had been doing 85. Matt H is right. Admit to nothing.

    • Avatar for Anne Le Tran
      Ray Ovac
      December 24, 2014 #

      ummmm no..please don't perpetuate these old a police officer it ticks me off when this happens. I LOVE it when a person is honest for a change. .we deal with dishonesty all day long and the last thing you need to do is put yourself in the same group as other more serious criminals..when people lie to me I ALWAYS write them a ticket and look for other more serious offenses. ..if they tell me the truth then they're WAY more likely to get a warning depending on their attitude. ..Have a Merry Christmas everyone. .

      • Avatar for Anne Le Tran
        February 6, 2015 #

        As a retired military police officer, I agree, honesty & attitude play a large role. One thing though, the answer "No, I don't know" could be their most honest answer. And NEVER try and use a position of authority to try and get out. I always hated it when senior military personnel would try and explain their rank and position to me as if it was an excuse. That only made me look harder. Bottom line, don't try to be an armchair lawyer.

  4. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    Mike K
    December 18, 2014 #

    Also, roll down your windows if you have tinting and turn off your car and place the keys on the dashboard. inform the officer if you need to reach into the glove compartment for any documents he/she requests. If you have passengers in the car, have them also put their hands where the officer can see them (on the dashboard, on the back of the front seats if seated in the rear of the vehicle. Inform the police officer if you have a concealed carry permit, and whether you are carrying. And address them as "Sir" or "Ma'am" as necessary. I have only received one ticket in over 35 years of driving by following these rules.

  5. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    Tom Tucker
    December 24, 2014 #

    If you have a concealed carry permit and are armed, present your permit along with your drivers license.

  6. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    December 24, 2014 #

    This is if you are white right…Because in this country a simple traffic stop for white folks is very different than it is for black and brown folks…in case you are wondering, I am a white man and how police treat people based on race is pretty obvious.

  7. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    dustieryder111igor repulski
    December 25, 2014 #

    have not been pulled over since being busted for drag racing in my 1964 tri power GTO in 1970. by golly,now we change with age.

  8. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    December 25, 2014 #

    Fight back!! If you have ever been or seen traffic court you know right away it is a money machine. Fight back on each and every moving violation. You could get over 80% of your "violations) dismissed. This is big. So many judges know what the police departments are doing. Nothing wrong with arguing back as long as you are respectful. Hell if you want to ruin their day like they have just done to you go for it. Never raise your voice or cuss but you can give them hell for taking your money. Good luck!! Remember there are good cops then there are traffic cops.

  9. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    December 27, 2014 #

    "By admitting guilt, you forfeit your right to contest the potential ticket in court." Simply put, nothing could be further from the truth. There's nothing you can say that would "forfeit" your right seek judicial review.

  10. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    Don C.
    December 29, 2014 #

    Maybe the law has changed, or maybe it's not the same in all states, but in Oklahoma and Texas where I have done most of my driving it is against the law to drive with your hazard lights on. Use your turn signals to indicate your pulling over. I have asked several police officers if we are allowed to ever drive with our hazard lights on and they have all said no reason ever!

  11. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    January 11, 2015 #

    Turn the dome light on in your vehicle. This will give the officer assurance that the situation is safe for him or her.

  12. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    David Armstrong
    January 29, 2015 #

    #8 Don’t admit guilt. By admitting guilt, you forfeit your right to contest the potential ticket in court. It’s no joke; anything you say could and might be used against you.
    YAY I love it when your insurance company teaches you the Correct thing to do.
    First day on my Job they taught us, Never admit anything, make them prove it, takes much more to prove it.

  13. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    William Allman
    January 30, 2015 #

    I've obtained a driver's license in 6 different states and in every one it is illegal to drive with hazard lights on, so I think it's safe to assume that is true in all 50 states. They are only to be used when one's vehicle is at a standstill to warn other drivers of a possible hazard (hence the name).

    • Avatar for Anne Le Tran
      Zach Twiller
      September 30, 2015 #

      Guess you haven't driven in Pennsylvania:
      67 Pa Code § 173.2.
      Hazard warning system—Driver-controlled flashing front and rear lights used to warn approaching motorists when a vehicle is broken down or is traveling at a slow speed.

    • Avatar for Anne Le Tran
      Zach Twiller
      September 30, 2015 #

      and 75 Pa Code 43 § 4305. (b) (1):
      (1) The driver of a motor vehicle or combination
      equipped with simultaneous flashing signals shall use the
      signals when the vehicle is unable to maintain a speed of at
      least 25 miles per hour because of weather, grade or other
      similar factors or is unable to maintain a speed consistent
      with the normal flow of traffic.

      and 75 Pa Code 43 § 4305 (c) Use below minimum speed limit.–The driver of a motor
      vehicle or combination equipped with simultaneous flashing
      signals shall use the signals when the vehicle is not
      maintaining at least the minimum speed established in accordance
      with the provisions of section 3364 (relating to minimum speed

      So its never safe to assume..most folks know what happens when one assumes….

    • Avatar for Anne Le Tran
      November 23, 2015 #

      Slow moving trucks on the mountain highways here in Colorado always have their flashers on.

  14. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    February 5, 2015 #

    I always give the utmost respect to the officers, but when they tell u they pulled u over because of your license plate light did not illuminate your plate so they could read it at 50 feet, but in reality they hit their lights a block away ( more like 300 ft) it erodes my confidence in the officers intentions. I was pulled over just last week and that is exactly what happened. I asked to step out to see if I had a burnt out bulb and was told to just stay in my vehicle, which is what I did. Only to be sent on my way a few minutes later…. I immediately stopped and got out and checked my lights and all were working with no mud on lights or plate. So us citizens like a little truth too….. nothing makes me more upset than having hot air blown up my butt by some young punk with a badge and a gun pulling folks over and making up lies to have justification….. just saying it's a two way street law officers…

  15. Avatar for Anne Le Tran
    May 29, 2015 #

    what's the probability of the officer showing up, I'd you challenge the ticket in court?

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