If you have ever been pulled over by the police, you know how anxious you feel, even if you think you have done nothing wrong. Those flashing lights in your rear view mirror trigger stress and angst, but you must remain calm and remember to follow these steps in order to make the stop go as smoothly as possible:
- If you see that an officer is motioning you to pull over, turn on your signal and carefully come to a stop on the right side of the road. Don’t drive for miles to find a better spot.
- After you stop, shut off your vehicle and roll down your window fully. If at night, turn on your car’s interior lights so the office can see you. Put your hands on the steering wheel.
- Don’t reach for your vehicle registration, license, or insurance card until the officer instructs you to do so. Searching under your seats or in the glove compartment without the officer’s request and supervision will cause suspicion and lead the officer to think you may produce a weapon.
- Be polite and respectful. Don’t be rude, confrontational or antagonistic.
- Answer the officer’s questions loudly enough so he or she can hear you above surrounding traffic noise.
- Stay seated in your vehicle unless asked to get out. Do not make any abrupt physical moves. Any aggressive movement may put the officer on the defensive which could end with your arrest.
- After your stop is concluded, the officer may direct you on how to safely exit. Listen closely to avoid getting into an accident or being stopped again.
Know Your Rights In A Traffic Stop
Even though you should remain respectful of the officer pulling you over, you do have rights when interacting with the police. Understand your Constitutional rights and do not incriminate yourself. Your answers to the officer’s questions can be used against you in court.
Never lie to a police officer, but do not hesitate to invoke your right to keep silent. It can’t be used against you. Politely inform the officer that you are electing to remain silent. If you are not comfortable with answering the officer’s questions at any point during the stop, tell the officer you will no longer answer until you have an attorney present.
For the most part, traffic stops end in one of four ways: the officer lets you go, the officer issues a warning, the officer gives you a citation, or if a crime has been committed, the officer gives you a summons for court or arrests you on the spot. By following smart practices in a traffic stop, you improve your chances of a positive outcome. Remember, at a traffic stop, you cannot win. Do not engage or argue with the officer because you cannot win. Always be respectful and courteous.