What to Do (And Not Do) When Pulled Over
by Harold Harper | 12/23/2019 |
In your rearview mirror, you see a splash of red and blue lights. You were driving to work and you didn’t notice how fast you were going. You also have an out taillight. Now, the nerves set in and you wonder what to do.
It’s a good question: What do you actually do when you are pulled over?
They don’t always review this topic in Drivers Ed and sometimes well-meaning friends spread misinformation. It is important to know what to expect. Although traffic stops are never fun, being prepared with information can help make the experience less stressful.
- Remain calm- It’s normal to be nervous. Remember, the police officer is a person who is doing their job. He or she likely has a family at home and plans for the weekend. Just take a few breaths.
- Pull over- You can pull over onto the right shoulder of the road. If it is unsafe, for example, if there is construction, you can turn on your turn hazard lights or turn signal. This lets the officer know that you are looking for a spot to pull over. Don’t speed up or do anything unsafe. Try to find a well-lit area.
- Remain seated- It is best to stay put and wait for the officer to approach your vehicle. Turn off your radio and engine. Roll down your window and turn on the dome light during the evening. If it is an unmarked car, you may wait till the officer approaches to view their credentials before rolling down your window.
- When the officer approaches- Keep your hands on the wheel or visible. Do not reach for anything or act out of the ordinary. Remain calm. If you have a weapon in the car, it is best to disclose that information.
- Cooperate- You will likely be asked for your license, registration, and proof of insurance. If you have to do any reaching, it’s always a good idea to ask for permission to reach. It’s also a good idea to keep your registration in the glove compartment. If the officer asks if you have a weapon, be honest.
- Silence- For most traffic stops, silence is golden. Yes, you will want to respond to questions, but be polite, short, and simple. You can also ask why you are pulled over. Remember to keep your replies short and sweet. You do not need to admit to anything wrong, especially if you are planning to contest the ticket. Sometimes, an officer will ask you something to see how you will react. If he or she thinks you are acting suspicious, you may be asked for your consent for a search.
- Search- You can decline a request to a search. Even if you don’t have anything to hide, you don’t need to say ‘yes’. This is your right. Continue to remain calm and polite when declining the search. There might be something in your car you are unaware of, this why it is best to say ‘no.’
- Ticket- If the traffic stop ends with a ticket, sign the ticket and move on with your day. It is already done, there is no need to argue. When you sign, this is not admission of guilt.
You have rights. You cannot be arrested for a bad attitude, filming a traffic stop with your phone, and you do not have to consent to a field sobriety test. However, it is best to comply and be respectful during a traffic stop. Remember, that the officer is human.
If you need help with a ticket or an arrest from a traffic stop, call your lawyers at Harper & Harper right away at: 219-762-9538 or fill out our Contact Form.