You can’t always win. But according to real-life cops and serial ticket dodgers, these few simple words can improve your odds astronomically.

First, wave “hello”

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So you were driving down the road a little faster than you should have been, and you spot a police cruiser lurking behind some shrubbery. One former police officer says that the smartest thing that you can do right then is to wave at the officer. Why? He will either think that you know each other and wave back, or will think that you’re acknowledging that you were driving too fast, and are letting him know that you’re slowing down. Either way, you drastically reduce your chance of getting a ticket.

Don’t say: “I’m sorry I was speeding”

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If you do get pulled over, says one former police officer, never acknowledge that you were, in fact, speeding. You don’t want to give the police any ammunition to use against you, should you contest your ticket in traffic court. When the officer tells you that you are speeding, giving a brief, noncommittal response like, “I see” or “I thought I was going with the flow of traffic” is the way to go. (Asking sarcastic questions like, “What’s the problem, officer?” won’t help your case!) This is why cops touch your car’s tail light during traffic stops.

Ask, “How’s your day going?”

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According to one officer on Reddit, treating a police officer like a human is a good way to get her to treat you the same way: “A lot of the time when people make small talk and have somewhat of a conversation it humanizes the people were dealing with and makes it harder for us to give someone a ticket.” Secret sources who have dodged more than one speeding ticket in their lives also advise that you just get through the meeting with the police as quickly and politely as you possibly can. You don’t want them to remember anything about you, except that you were nice and did what you were told.