You are driving home from work, and then your mind wanders from the day’s event to a certain nostalgic moment. You are so caught up in reliving the memories and forget to notice your foot is getting heavier by the minute. Unknowingly, you are driving at 59 MPH in a 40 MPH zone. Pretty soon, the flash of blue and red lights on your rear-view mirror welcomes you to reality.
With the confusion, you wonder what to do. Where should I pull over? What is the typical police pull over procedure? What do cops ask for when pulled over? Should I get my insurance and license ready before the police officer arrives? Do I stay in my car? This state evokes an intense feeling, and what you do next will have a huge effect on any legal action that may follow.
In fact, DOJ’s statistics estimates that close to one million people fall into the hand of a traffic officer due to a violation of traffic law. Around 9% of these people are in some way using their phones while driving, and approximately 7.5% have violated moving laws.
Data above shows common reasons why people in the US are pulled over at traffic stops.
So, when you are in such a situation, relax and follow this guide to help you find out what to do when you are pulled over.
What To Do When Pulled Over by Police
- Understand that you have your rights when pulled over by police and ensure the officer doesn’t violate any.
- Breathe, be calm, and stay relaxed.
- Look for a convenient spot for you to pull over.
- Stay in the car and roll down the driver’s side window as well as any other tinted window.
- Let the police officer speak first.
- Wait for the officer to ask for the documents.
- In case you have a gun, let the officer know in advance.
- Remain polite, and do not argue when the officer gives you a ticket.
- If you plan to fight on your ticket, keep your answers brief and don’t admit directly to any wrongdoing.
- Follow any orders the officer gives you, and don’t argue.
- Be safe when merging back into traffic.
Know your rights and don’t let the officer violate any.
Police officers can pull you over for even a minor traffic violation, this is the principle of police pull over laws. They may even follow you around waiting for you to commit a traffic offense. It is, therefore, important to know your rights whenever you are pulled over.
No police officer will pull you over because of your race, age, gender or the kind of car you own. In case you suspect you have been pulled over unfairly, if possible, record your communication with the police. Do not, under any circumstance, react in a hostile manner since the officer may arrest you or retaliate forcefully.
Breathe, be calm, and stay relaxed.
Being pulled over by police can be scary, but remind yourself that it is okay even when they give you a ticket drive. Just relax, and remember that the police officer is here to keep everyone safe, and complying will only improve safety for you and other road users.
Therefore, you can turn off your flashers just to show the officer that you have seen the headlights. Slow down, in case you have to drive some distance from where you are. This will show the police pulling you over that you are not trying to make a getaway.
Do not be anxious or nervous when pulled over since you may end up answering or admitting to wrongdoing that may bring further complication in case the police seek legal action.
Look for a convenient spot for you to pull over.
When the headlights greet your rear-view mirror, put your turn signal on to signify to the officer that you are pulling over. Try to find a suitable location to park. A wide shoulder of the road or a close parking lot can be some of the convenient places to pull over. Keep in mind that many police officers will appreciate this gesture.
You should remember that pulling over right away is not an admission of wrongdoing. It just shows that you are aware of what is going on around you. In fact, pulling over early will make you understand where and why the officer was forced to pull you over. This is very important especially when you will require a lawyer for your defense.
How and where you pull over matters a lot. Pull over in such a way that you can calm down an angry traffic police. Additionally, pull over rather slowly and not so quickly that the officer has to brake rapidly to avoid hitting your car. Select a location where the officer will not be clipped by vehicles whenever he’s coming to your window.
In case it’s dark, and you are alone. You have the right to drive to a place where you feel you are secure before pulling over. While at it, make sure you dial 911 and inform the operator that the officer is pulling over and that you are ready to stop at a location you feel secure, for instance, a well-lit area. The operator will communicate to the traffic officer about this.
Stay in the car and roll down the driver’s side window as well as any other tinted window.
If the police pull you over when there’s dark turn on the dome lights, then place your hands on the steering wheel. Ensure you make all your movements slow since the officer will be watching you to ensure you don’t draw any weapon.
Ensure your hands are on site when the officer is approaching and roll down the driver’s window and other tinted windows. Additionally, do not try to reach on anything on the passenger’s compartment or your rummage your glove box when the officer is approaching.
Let the police officer speak first.
When the traffic police approach your car, he will ask for your registration and license. He is, however, not forced to tell you why he has pulled you over. Whenever you stretch your hands to get your license and registration ensure you inform the officer what you are doing. Don’t let the officer think you intend to attack him.
Be courteous, and let the officer explain why he has pulled you over. Don’t start by saying that you have not violated any traffic laws. This may escalate anger in the officer, and you may end up getting a ticket. In fact, even when it comes to driverless cars when pulled over the officer will need to talk to someone, and that is usually the person controlling the movement of the car.
Wait for the officer to ask for the documents.
Ensure you do not make any swift movements and don’t turn to get hold of your purse in the passenger seat or rummage your pockets to show your license until the officer orders you to do so.
Do not decide to open the glove box, until the officer instructs you. Whenever he allows you to, do it slowly while allowing him to shine some light into the box just to be certain you do not intend to grab any weapon.
What documents do you need when you get pulled over? Ensure that your registration and license are not in a large pouch that is big enough to carry a gun. Use something small that the officer won’t mistake for a gun. If, however, you don’t have your license and registration, the officer may be forced to give you a ticket or arrest you. But, if you have a good reason for not having your license with you, the officer may require another form of picture ID just to verify your identity.
In case you have a gun, let the officer know in advance.
Always let the traffic officer know you have the firearm on your person. The term ‘on your person’ is very crucial since another officer may come by in the other window only to hear you mention ‘a gun,’ this may not end well with you.
By informing them beforehand, you will shed a positive light on the eyes of the officer. You will also be in a better position when you ask them what to do with the weapon, this way they will direct you on what to do just to ensure they protect their safety and that of the other road users. In fact, the officers need to know they are comfortable and in control of the situation.
Remain polite, and do not argue when the officer gives you a ticket.
You don’t need to argue with the officer. In case you contest their decisions, just thank them and be in charge of your emotions since you will have enough time to challenge the officer in a traffic court. If you suspect the officer did something illegal when pulling you over, do not confront him at the scene, especially if you’re pulled over for speeding but no ticket was issued. You only need to remember his name for future use in court.
Otherwise, if you think the traffic stop is taking longer than anticipated, feel free to ask the officer if it is right to leave.
If you plan to fight on your ticket, keep your answers brief and don’t admit directly to any wrongdoing.
Traffic officers will always try to extract admissions from you. Whenever you are aware of your wrongdoing, just accept the ticket, and don’t admit to any offense until you seek further advice from a lawyer. You should never admit to making any traffic mistakes. This may turn against you when you are in a traffic court, and the officer may decide to arrest you.
Follow any orders the officer gives you, and don’t argue.
The last thing an officer may want to encounter while pulling you over is rebellion. This forces the officer to believe that they have to force you to follow their orders. You can prevent all these inconveniences by just following every order you are given by the officer. You should also know when the officer is legally required to search your car.
Be safe when merging back into traffic.
Whenever the officer assures you that it is right to leave – after answering all questions he has asked. You should ensure that you get back into the traffic safely. Make sure that your entry doesn’t endanger your life and that of other road users.
We cannot stop emphasizing on how important your actions are in the aftermath of a traffic stop by a police officer. Remember, they play a great role in determining your fate when you end up in a traffic court. Through this guide, we hope you learned very well what to do when pulled over by a traffic officer.
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