8 May 08

 

It's going to happen, at a scale or inspection station, or on the highway with blue lights flashing behind you. At some point in your trucking career you'll be given a citation from a police or DOT officer indicating he or she thinks you violated a traffic or trucking regulation. How you handle it from when the officer asks for your CDL, registration, logbook and bills of lading will determine how it affects your future driving career.

I'm not an attorney, so I'm not here to provide any legal advice or direction. I'm a trucker with over 30 years and 2.5 million accident- and ticket-free miles behind me. Now let me clarify something: "ticket-free" doesn't mean I never received a notice to appear or a traffic citation. It means I never had one end up on my driving record. The suggestions here are from personal experience; how I avoided having any citation or violation show up on my DMV report. And I can't promise that by doing the same you'll have the same success, as there are many variables involved.

So what steps did I use to accomplish a no-ticket driving career?

The officer is out of his vehicle and walking up alongside your trailer.

Don't wait for him to ask for the paperwork and your CDL, and then go searching through the truck to find it. This will make the officer a bit nervous concerning his security, as he has no idea what you might come back with. Keep all your shipping and trucking documents in a location you can reach without removing your seat belt. Have it sitting in your lap when the officer arrives at your window. 

Don't remove your seat belt until you are absolutely sure the officer has seen you with it on. I never took mine off unless the officer requested I exit the tractor.

Only hand the officer the documents he/she asks for. Don't volunteer any document or information that hasn't been specifically requested by the officer. 

When asked if you know why you were pulled over, never give an answer that can be used as an admission of guilt. (In most states today the officer is wired to his dashcam and anything recorded can possibly be used as evidence if you challenge the citation in court.) Best to say, "I'm not sure, but I know you're out here for my and other motorists' safety, so I'm sure you've stopped me for a good reason."

Only answer questions the officer asks with the shortest and most honest answer possible. Be polite, respectful and honest at all times, regardless of the officer's attitude. 

Finally, once the officer has finished writing the citation, warning, or even if he lets you go with a verbal warning, always thank him for doing his job.

You have the citation in hand, now what?

Join me in my next blog to learn how I dealt with each citation I received and kept them from being on my DMV report.

Image via Flickr by Richard Bauer

Comments (8) -

Jim Buchanan
Jim Buchanan

One approach is to assume the officer isn't stupid by presenting some comment that he/she has heard a million times before. There are all too often a good supply of the Barney Fife types of enforcement personnel, and professionalism and honesty will serve to set you up for the best scenario possible. Be different. Act like the professional driver you are, and don't be spewing a lot of excuses and truckdriver stories that have nothing to do with your present circumstance. I know for certain that an officer can give you a break based on your demeanor. The more you talk, the more that can be gleaned not only to look for more, but to convince an officer not to let you by with a lesser violation, or not write everything up that they could.  

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Rickey Gooch
Rickey Gooch

This is very good information. Hopefully everyone will read this and take heed!

Rickey Gooch
Justice for Truckers

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I was in NJ going through several "circles" and went halfway through a stop sign which I failed to see with all the salt and snow on my windshield. There was a cop right there and I got pulled over. After the preliminaries he asked me to get out, as I was walking to the front of the truck he said "you ran that stop sign" to which I replied "yes I did, I saw it when I was halfway through it so it was too late to stop, sorry about that" he took my license went to his car to check it and when he came back he simply handed me my stuff and  said "here, have a nice day, your license is clear and I don't want to mess it up with any tickets ,etc" his words. So, honesty and a good attitude helped, especially to a cop who probably hears stories all day and he appreciated a no bull exchange. I was relieved and came away with a new respect for just telling the truth and staying calm and just doing my job. This was in northern NJ rte 202.

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Does a DOT vehicle have a dash cam?

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Sid Drexler
Sid Drexler

I had a similar experience with a state trooper in Illinois I asked for his name & where he was out of, told him I was going to call his commander,tell him how profffesinal & curtious he was ,& I did !

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Nelson Blunt
United States Nelson Blunt

Jules Bianchi: F1 driver dies from crash injuries http://adf.ly/1Kzuos

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Cops are pretty cool if you keep it real..I once told an officer i needed to drive to this plaza cs they have good coffee and sleep there and even i was drove extra half and hour he just smiled and let me go Laughing

If you are being real and Nice they are humans they will understand you...

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Good advice! Although when you still get that traffic ticket, it really hurts. I tried out this app called off the record in Washington and they made it really easy to contest my stop sign ticket. I paid 250 upfront, got a lawyer instantly. My ticket was reduced to a non mover and the fine was reduced. Checkout offtherecord.com

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