Say you’re driving down the road, a mile or two per hour over the legal limit. Maybe you’re driving right at the limit. When you see a police car on the side of the road, do you still hit your brakes?

A lot of people do. It’s one of the psychological impacts that the police have on the general public. We all tend to feel like we have done something wrong or like we’re about to get arrested. We react instinctively. If there is a police car up ahead and you’re driving in traffic, you’ll probably start seeing those brake lights come on long before you actually get to the car. By the time you do, everyone will be driving well under the speed limit, but they’ll all still keep hitting their brakes anyway.

Should you do it? Honestly, it may not matter in many cases. If you’re in traffic, you obviously want to match the flow of traffic, but if you’re driving by yourself, the police likely already got you on the radar gun long before you saw the car on the side of the road. They know if you were speeding or not, and slamming on the brakes at the last minute isn’t going to change that. In fact, if you’re reckless about it, it could just put you in more danger of causing an accident.

No matter how you react, the officer may pull you over and give you a ticket. Make sure you know about all of the legal defense options that you have if this happens.