What should I do if i’m pulled over?

If you are driving and see a police car behind you with their emergency lights flashing, you should immediately, and safely, pull over. Do not stop in the middle of the street, and do not search for what you consider a safe spot. Chances are when the officer turns on red and blue lights, that is where they want, and expect, you to stop.

Once stopped, do what you can to put the officer at ease. Remember, traffic stops are dangerous activities for officers because they don’t know if they are pulling over a good hearted person, or someone who is wanted for murder. So, how do you put an officer at ease? Here are some things you should do: roll your windows down, roll down the rear windows if they are tinted, turn off the engine, if its dark outside, turn on the interior light, put your hands on the steering wheel, DON’T make quick movements in the car, and DON’T exit the car unless instructed to do so by the officer. If the Officer asks for your driver’s license, and you have to rummage through the glove compartment, center console, your pocket, or your purse, let the officer know that you need to look in that particular area. By doing these things, it will put the officer at ease and facilitate a friendlier encounter.

When talking to an officer be polite and courteous. I have heard from more than one officer that people can’t talk themselves out of a ticket, but they sure can talk themselves into one. The one thing you should not do is argue with the officer. This is a no-win situation because the officer already believes their own version of what happened. If you are asked to sign a citation, sign it. You will not be admitting guilt, rather you are just agreeing to show up to court to take care of the matter. If you feel you were wrongfully issued a citation, the place to plead your case is in court to a neutral judge. If you want to complain about the officer’s actions, you can file a personnel complaint with the department.

If you have never been pulled over, it can be a stressful time. Believe it or not, it is also a stressful time for the officer. Officers are taught that traffic stops are one of the most dangerous activities they can perform. When officers learn how to do traffic stops, they follow the above checklist to make the stop as safe as possible. Now that you know what will likely happen, you can take control of the situation and make the encounter safer for you and the officer.

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