Dos and don'ts of getting pulled over in Michigan, best ways to fight a traffic ticket

Police, judge give insider tips on traffic stops, tickets

By Kelley Kosuda - Producer, Hank Winchester - Reporter

It could happen on your way to work, picking up the kids, or maybe while traveling on a road trip. 

Whenever or wherever it happens, those flashing red and blue lights mean you’re in trouble.

In the cop car with Troy Police Officer Milt Stansbury, we talked with him about what you should and shouldn’t do if you get pulled over. 

DON’T panic: Just remain calm. Make sure you keep your seat belt on and keep your hands in plain sight (on the steering wheel is best). Some cops even appreciate it if you turn your dome lights on inside the car if it’s night. 

DO pull over to a safe spot: If you don’t think were you are is safe; slow down and put on your turn signal. This will tell the officer that you know you’re being pulled over. 

DON’T lie: Officers can see your traffic history, even if the tickets has been dismissed or reduced. It all shows up on their database. So it really is pointless to lie. When an officer asks if you know why they’re pulling you over, just tell them the truth. 

DO be honest: Officer Milt says a traffic violation is a civil infraction, so you’re not admitting to a crime. And the honesty is appreciated! 

DON’T argue: It will only makes things worse. You don’t want to be memorable to a police officer who might see you in court. 

DON’T cry: Officer Milt says he really doesn’t take emotions into consideration. 

DO be civil: Honesty and politeness goes a long way. If you ask the officer if it’s okay for you to retrieve your wallet, they’ll appreciate the warning that you care about their safety. Having an attitude, won’t get you out of a ticket. 

DON’T complain: People will often say they’re going with traffic and someone else was going faster than them. This doesn’t fly with most police officers. It’s best to leave other drivers out of it. 

Watch the full story with Officer Milt below:

So you were issued a ticket and you're heading to court -- what's the best way to fight a traffic ticket?

What if you do all you can do? Say all you can say? But you’ve been ticketed with a traffic violation and you’re heading to court. 

The Honorable Kirsten Nielsen Hartig is a judge at the 52-4 District Court in Troy. The court has two dockets per month dedicated to just traffic tickets. That’s any moving violations, speeding, running a red light, etc. So she’s seen and heard it all.

Judge Hartig says the best thing you can do when you come to traffic court is to be respectful. 
That means dressing respectfully. Think business attire, not bar clothes. 

Always be honest. Just like when you’ve been pulled over, judges can tell when you’re lying. So tell the truth. If you don’t think the truth is beneficial to you, then feel free to not say anything. 

Thinking about asking for mercy from the judge? Judge Hartig says there’s a big, common misconception revolving around traffic court.

Most people are under the impression that the judge has the authority to dismiss the points that might get tagged onto your record. The judge can reduce the fees, fines and costs if he or she finds that it’s warranted. The judge can’t look at your record and reduce the points if he or she finds it appropriate. 

There’s also a key difference between a formal and informal hearing. A formal hearing typically includes a county prosecutor or city attorney for the police officer. The driver can either represent themselves or have an attorney. 

An informal hearing means the driver comes without an attorney. The police officer will appear as well, but there won’t be a city attorney or county prosecutor. You can negotiate an agreement or the matter will be heard by a magistrate. 

If the police officer doesn’t show up to court, doesn’t have an emergency and is on duty…most times, the judge will dismiss the case. 

Watch the full story with Judge Hartig below:

Local 4 team tells their stories about being pulled over

We all have one of these stories -- What's your "when I got pulled over" story?

The Local 4 Team spilled theirs along with some tips on what to do!

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