Speeding Tickets, Revisited

Because on my (Ben) good days I make the effort to read something written by someone whose viewpoint may be 180 degrees from mine, I flipped through Frank Luntz’s Words That Work at the bookstore recently and noticed that he shares advice about what to do when a cop pulls you over:

The first and most important thing you can do is to recognize the police officer’s authority and superiority — immediately and totally. … The number one way to avoid a ticket is to acknowledge your offense at the outset and beg for mercy. This may not be what you want to hear, and it may not be in your nature to do, but language laced with pity, sympathy, and a plea for leniency is the best strategy. When you’ve been pulled over, the reality is that you are at the cop’s mercy.

Now, you may regard political operatives as Slimer (you remember Slimer) in a business suit, but there’s something to be said for political operatives who do their jobs well. Luntz, who has coined phrases ranging from “opportunity scholarships” to “the death tax,” is clearly good at his job. You imagine that the enemies he has made on Capitol Hill and beyond would hire him immediately if he ever had a political change of heart. 

So is this good advice? It might’ve saved me from one of my second, third or fourth speeding tickets, when I tried to argue and/or defy my way out of them. (Bad idea, says Luntz: “Realize that the cop is not plagued by self-doubt, agonizing over whether you really ran that stop sign or not. … Pulling an attitude will make the cop dig in, not back down.”) In the two instances when I did get out of a ticket, I didn’t exactly beg for mercy, but I either made a plea (to help my possibly-concussed wife) or wrong-footed the officer with my razor sharp understanding of the NBA’s labyrinthine playoff seeding system.

Luntz’s main piece of advice? “Look [the officer] straight in the eye and say, ‘I’m sorry, officer.'” Which is exactly what Erin did in Mount Orab. To no avail. But hey, the death tax stuck.

Also, in light of Brad Daniel’s confession that he has racked up sixteen speeding tickets (including five in one stop), do any of our friends have a greater claim to criminal behavior on the highway? We hear Brad should’ve been nailed for littering too.


One thought on “Speeding Tickets, Revisited

  1. Let me clarify here. 16 tickets, true, but not all are speeding tickets. I will clarify the breakdown.

    I have had 10 speeding tickets, in 5 different states.

    In the 5 ticket incident, I recieved one of those ten speeding tickets, a no insurance ticket, expired tags, and a no inspection ticket. The cop also had the car towed, which I count as the fifth ticket. I was 17 at the time.

    So that gives us 14.

    I have one failure to yield ticket from the ONE wreck that I have been in that was my fault (out of two total), three months after I started driving.

    In the two ticket stop in Virginia (just prior to the alleged littering incident), I was charged with speeding (one of the ten) and too darkly tinted windows. Virginia Hi-pos apparently don’t like not being able to see in the back of the car.

    So there you have it.

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