When you find yourself getting pulled over by flashing lights and a very official police car, your first response is probably going to be panic. However, there is no need to panic and every reason to stay calm and level-headed. Here are 10 helpful suggestions for what is best when being pulled over by a police officer:
- First, slow down reasonably quickly to show that you are complying. However, keep in mind that you don’t want to slow down so fast that the police officer following you has to brake hard.
- Find a safe spot to pull over. Keep the officer’s safety in mind so that once the officer gets to your window, you aren’t dealing with a frustrated cop. Also, try to pull over as far to the right as possible, for the officer’s safety as well as your own.
- Once your car is stopped and in park, put your hands on the steering wheel or within clear view of the officer so that he or she doesn’t wonder if you are reaching for anything. If they can’t see your hands, they most likely will assume the worst. No officer wants to be surprised by a weapon or someone trying to drive off.
- Wait for the officer to ask before you do anything. They will ask for your license and registration and be willing to wait while you get it, so you don’t have to be searching for it while they are walking up.
- Do NOT get out of the car unless asked to by the officer. Getting out of the car creates a potential threat and puts the officer in a defensive mood.
- If you get pulled over when it’s dark, you may want to turn on your interior light (after you’ve stopped) so that the officer doesn’t have to try and guess or figure out what they can’t see in the car.
- When pulled over by an unmarked car, you are allowed to wait for some identification to prove that they are a police officer before you roll down the window. Just keep in mind that you also don’t want to test the officer’s patience too much either.
- When asked, it is best to roll your window down completely to show you have nothing to hide.
- Keep your answers to any questions nice and short. Most officers have already decided if they are giving you a ticket before you even speak, so the less you say, the less they have against you if you decide to contest any resultant ticket. This doesn’t mean you can be hostile in any way, just avoid incriminating yourself by oversharing.
- Most likely, the police officer who pulled you over does not want to be there any longer than you want to. Be patient and stay calm and you will probably be on your way sooner than if you chose to argue and fight with the officer.
Ultimately, while there are several things you want to avoid, and many others you want to make sure you do when you are pulled over, just keep in mind that the officer isn’t out to get you personally and is following his or her training. Don’t do anything that would arouse suspicion, compromise safety, or prolong your stop. If you get a ticket you don’t agree with, you contest it in court and not on the side of the road. Police officers are trained to expect the worst, so you don’t want to be setting off any warning signals to put them on edge.