Panic mode

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photo by Josephine Lim

Getting pulled over can be a scary and frightening experience for young drivers, but with the right knowledge, it can be a smooth experience.

Sophomore Elena Hill was driving a golf cart when the brakes stopped working. She was coming up to a stop sign and had a decision to make: run the stop sign or get hit by a car. She chose the first option, but little did she know that car was a police officer. 

Hill had recently gotten her learner’s permit, so her mom let her drive the golf cart they rented in New Smyrna. The officer pulled her over after seeing her run the stop sign and had some choice words for her.

“He called me an idiot while I was uncontrollably crying, even after I explained the situation,” Hill said. “I had no idea what to do and I was panicking because I only had my permit.”

The officer could have ticketed her for not having a license, no seatbelts and reckless driving, but only chose the latter. Ticket prices for any of these can range from $100-$400.

“Most people are scared when they get pulled over for the first time and that is completely understandable,” police officer Milton Gil said. “Most officers will always try to calm you down, we are never just aiming to penalize you.”

Instead of a golf cart, however, it is more common to get pulled over in a car. But no matter the situation, people can still be scared and frustrated in those times.

Junior Ellie Wilkins was driving with her windows down and blasting music. She was driving through a 45 mph speed limit when it turned 35 mph. Not noticing the sign in the dark of night, Wilkins was pulled over. 

“I started to have a panic attack and was crying uncontrollably,” Wilkins said. “I had no clue what to do and I even pulled over on the wrong side of the road, luckily the officer was super nice and walked me through what to do.”

Wilkins got a warning and has been pulled over two times since then and got a warning for those too. Wilkins was able to get a warning the next time because she was respectful and followed the officer’s instructions.

“If you do everything you are asked to do, you will most likely not get a ticket,” Gil said. “My main goal is to educate, not to punish. I want to help teenagers and adults be better drivers and keep everyone safe on the road, so I am not a big ticket giver.”

Senior Arynn Duba was driving down Old Lockwood coming home from work when she rolled through a stop sign. It was late at night and she just wanted to get home as quickly as possible. A police officer was right to the side of her and pulled her over.

“I started sobbing immediately. I had no idea what to do and all I wanted was to go home,” Duba said.

Duba found out her registration expired during the traffic stop and was ticketed for not having the correct paperwork and rolling through a stop sign.

“The officer was not nice during the traffic stop, but I know it was late at night and he probably just wanted to go home like I did,” Duba said.

Gil describes the best steps to take as follows: pull over to the right side of the road as quickly and safely as possible, put your car in park, roll your windows down, put your hands on top of the steering wheel, and listen and be respectful to the officer.

You should also make sure you know where your registration, proof of insurance, and your license to show the police officer. Although all of these steps are important to follow, Gil believes the most important thing to remember is to be honest.

“We pull over a lot of cars daily, trust me, we have heard it all. No lie you tell us will work out in your favor,” Gil said. “If you are completely honest with us and seem interested in knowing what you did wrong and improving that, then you will get a warning unless it is a repetitive action.”

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