If you’re being completely candid with yourself, you know that you were speeding — or might have been. You were following along with the flow of traffic, however, so you didn’t expect to get pulled over until those red and blue lights were flashing in your rearview mirror.

Even though your stomach is sinking, try to remember that not every traffic stop (even for speeding) results in a ticket. Here’s how to lessen the odds that you’ll get a ticket and increase the chances you’ll be let off with a warning:

  • Pull over promptly. You can pull over in a well-lit parking lot or the nearest side street, but do it as soon as you find a safe spot. Don’t make the officer follow you for a long time.
  • Turn off the engine and turn on the interior lights. Traffic stops are nerve-wracking for police officers, too. Your effort to demonstrate that you’re compliant with the law and that the officer is safe will likely be noticed.
  • Put your hands on the wheel. For your safety and theirs, keeping your hands where the officer can see them is smart. Don’t start pulling out your driver’s license and registration until you are told.
  • Don’t argue, and don’t get out of the vehicle. Unless you are told to step out of the vehicle, stay inside and wait even if the officer seems to be taking a while. You don’t want to do anything the officer can regard as threatening.
  • Don’t lie about why you were speeding. The officer has likely heard every excuse under the sun, and your lie will probably fall flat. By the same token, don’t offer up any information that you aren’t required to. Silence is the best way to protect yourself against self-incrimination.
  • Be courteous at all times. Politeness goes a long way, especially during traffic stops.

Despite your efforts, you may still end up with a speeding ticket. But that’s okay. You won’t have done anything to hurt your case if you decide to fight the ticket in court.