I got pulled over for speeding this weekend.
I was doing 71 km/h in a 50 zone. For those thinking in miles this translates roughly to 44 miles in a 31 miles an hour zone.
To tell the truth it didn’t feel like I was speeding too much (and it still doesn’t) but anyone speeding more than 20 km/h for the first time can expect a decent fine here in Estonia.
The maximum fine for my offense is about 2000 dollars + suspension of driving license for 6 months. When pulled over, my initial thought was that the fine will probably be between 400 and 800 dollars – the average for that kind of speeding. Instead – I got a ticket for 30 dollars.
Here is how I did it.
- Tell the truth. I immediately accepted that I was speeding. In fact I told the police that I thought I was driving a bit faster than their radar registered.
- Make friends first, customers second. When I was a door-to-door salesman this rule never failed to deliver. Whenever I got into trouble with people or the authority I was taught to always make friends first and only afterward try to resolve the situation. Just as everyone else – the police is more likely to help when they like you. Make the officers your friends. This is how I did it:
There are a lot of people who get pulled over every day and most of them lie in order to get a smaller fine. Finding someone who is totally honest can be a breath of fresh air for a police officer.
- Show interest in what others do. While writing me the ticket a police officer verified some information and asked for my signature for at least 3 different papers – I told him that as an IT student it doesn’t make a lot of sense – all the information I gave them was already downloaded to their on-board computer via wireless internet. They had my picture, where I live and etc but they were still required to ask all this information from me. I told the police that it would be a lot faster when they could simply print the information out or if I could sign everything with my electronic signature (everyone has 1 here in Estonia) – that way there would be no need for paper and the process would be 3 or 4 times faster. Not surprisingly both police officers agreed and they also had some personal views and ideas that they eagerly shared! I just made 2 friends!
- Ask questions and tell something of interest. This is the best way to establish rapport and quickly befriend someone you didn’t know before. I told the police that this was my first speeding ticket in Estonia but that I had gotten 1 in the States. The officer writing the ticket was very interested in getting to know how it exactly works in the US and what are the biggest “speeding ticket differences” in the two countries. I told him everything I knew.
I also asked a few questions about how exactly the speed radar works since I was genuinely interested. It got to the point where 1 officer proposed that if I want I can drive by their car and they can measure my speed again – just to better explain how it works. I laughed and refused but I got the feeling that they were enjoying talking with me.
As you can see there are no mysteries on how to get a smaller fine. Make the police your friend first and only after that deal with the ticket part. Put yourself in their shoes – who would you rather let go – the guy who is obviously lying or the guy who seems genuinely interested and asks a lot of questions about your job.
1 more (evil) tip
Being honest or coming up with a little lie can depend on the situation you are in and your ability to read other people. If you are going to lie and you are from Europe but driving in the US you can say that you accidentally mixed miles and kilometers since in Europe we only have the latter. This has worked at least 3 times for me!
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