Recent news stories about altercations between police officers and people they have pulled over during traffic stops has created a heightened awareness and concern of what people should do when being pulled over by the police. There are certain simple procedures that you can take to minimize any potential miscommunication between you and the officer. First and foremost, respect the police officer and their authority. If you feel you have been wrongly pulled over, you can always plead your case in a court of law. Do not be antagonistic or disrespectful. Answer the officer’s questions truthfully and cooperate with them fully. Laws, rules and procedures are in place in society and in the workplace for a reason: to establish order, foster safety, and so everyone conforms to an acceptable standard of behavior. When being pulled over by the police, follow the guidelines outlined below and share these tips with your family members. That way, everyone returns home safe after traffic stops.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE WHEN BEING PULLED OVER?
• As soon as you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror and hear the siren of the police car behind you, let the officer know you see him/her by immediately putting on your right turn signal and pulling over to the curb.
• Put your car in park.
• At this point don’t be moving around going into your clothes, purse, glove box or center console to retrieve your license and proof of insurance cards. The officer will be watching you as he/she approaches your window and they may think you are pulling a weapon or hiding something.
• Turn on the dome light inside your car so the officer can see inside easier.
• Roll your window down and place your hands on the steering wheel at ‘12 and two’ and wait for the officer to arrive at your window.
• You may notice in your mirror that the officer will place his/her hand on the trunk of your car as they approach. Do not be alarmed. They do this as a precautionary measure to leave their fingerprints on cars in case they are harmed during the traffic stop and the offender drives away. Many an offender has been convicted once they are tracked down because the officer’s prints were found on their car.
• When the officer arrives at your window, he/she will tell you why they have pulled you over. They will ask you if you have any weapons in the car. If you do have a weapon in the car, be honest and tell the officer where the weapon is located. Then follow the officer’s instructions EXACTLY.
• The officer will also ask you for your driver’s license and proof of insurance, and in some states your vehicle registration card.
• Before making any sudden moves, tell the officer where your items are located in the car and that you will get them out. This way, the officer can get in the best position to watch you retrieve your items.
• Retrieve the items and hand them to the officer. The officer will tell you to stay in your car as they go back to their car to evaluate the situation and determine if they are going to issue a ticket or just give you a warning.
• If you suddenly remember where something is that the officer asked for, don’t jump out of your car to go give it to them. This behavior may alarm the officer and place them in a defensive position. Rather, honk your horn and wave to them. The officer will respond to you.
• If the officer comes back to your car to issue you a ticket, they may ask you to sign the ticket. This is simply to acknowledge that you received the ticket. It does not imply an admission of guilt.
• When the officer is done handing you the ticket, you should pull away first.