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CLIPBOARD : HOW TO: BEHAVE WHEN STOPPED BY POLICE

California Highway Patrol Officer Tony Gubler has given out more tickets than Orange County has Republicans. He is the state’s most prolific ticket writer. And he rides the freeways right here in our own back yard.

Officer Gubler’s comment: “I know there are people who may view this in a negative way. . . .” A negative way?

Undeveloped photographs are negative. The Rams’ record last season was negative. But the sight of red lights flashing in your rear-view mirror isn’t just negative--it’s a cold-sweat-producing, end-of-the-world feeling.

Still, a motorist’s behavior when stopped could mean the difference between being cited for everything from speeding, tailgating and reckless driving to a fix-it ticket for a bad taillight. Or maybe, knowing how to behave when stopped could mean getting off with just a warning.

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The operative word here is “courtesy.”

“The easiest ticket I’m going to write is where they just throw me their stuff (license and registration) without saying a word to me,” said Public Affairs Officer Angel Johnson of the CHP’s Santa Ana office.

Talk to the officer and, for heaven’s sake, be nice. Being polite and contrite could net you a warning instead of a ticket. Then, too, most officers realize that there may be extenuating circumstances, and you may not be cited if you just have a conversation with the officer.

“Sometimes people are taking a sick child or friend to the hospital. But we’ll never know if they don’t explain the situation,” Johnson said.

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A word of warning, though: Be careful of the old I’m-taking-a-sick-friend-to-the-doctor trick. The police have been known to escort motorists all the way to the hospital or doctor’s office. Said Officer Johnson: “I follow them . . . just to make sure they get there safely.” Of course.

The following are guidelines on how to behave when stopped by an officer for a traffic violation on the freeway or elsewhere, day or night:

* Pull over to the right.

* Stay in the car. Officers are concerned about motorists getting out on the driver’s side and possibly being hit by approaching traffic.

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* Relax. The officer may have made the stop simply to inform you of a flat tire, or a dragging coat or skirt that has been closed in the car door. And even if you know that’s not the case, try to relax anyway.

* Put your hands on the steering wheel. If you’re fidgeting, an officer cannot tell whether you’re trying to hide drugs or reaching for a weapon--or if you’re merely looking for your license and registration. When your hands are in sight, doubts are alleviated.

* Just sit there and wait for the officer to approach you.

* When the officer has reached your car, roll down the window.

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* Talk to the officer; engage in a dialogue.

* Cooperate and, above all:

* BE POLITE!

Source: California Highway Patrol

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