What To Do if Your Car is Pulled Over by the Police

Getting pulled over by the police happens to almost every driver at least once. But whether it’s your first or your tenth time getting pulled over, it’s bound to make you feel a little nervous and scared. Cop cars are scary enough in your rearview mirror when they don’t have their lights and sirens on, nevermind when they do.

No matter why you’re getting pulled over, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind throughout the process to make it as comfortable, easy, and safe as possible. Getting pulled over will always be a little nerve-wracking, but if you know exactly what to do when you’re pulled over, it won’t be such a big deal the next time it happens. Just keep these things in mind, and it should be smooth sailing.

Pull over quickly and safely

As soon as you see flashing blue and red lights in your rearview mirror, you’ll want to begin the process of pulling over. Start by slowing down and putting on your blinker, as that shows the officer that you are planning on pulling over when it is safe and convenient. Don’t slam on your brakes or swerve to the side of the road - just get over to the shoulder calmly and safely.

Act calmly and be compliant

Once your vehicle is pulled over, you’ll want to do everything you can to make the police officer feel comfortable, safe, and not threatened. Start by turning off your vehicle and rolling down your front windows. Turn off or put away any distractions, such as music that is playing, or a lit cigarette. Then place your hands on the steering wheel, in the 10-and-2 position, so that the officer can see them at all times. When the police officer asks for your license and registration, say where it is and ask if you may reach for it. Little things like this go a long way towards making the officer feel as though you are not a threat.

Answer any questions from the officer politely and accurately. If you believe you were mistakenly pulled over, calmly ask what the reason is for your stop. If you know why you were pulled over, apologize, and try to explain why you were breaking the driving laws. Whatever you do, avoid arguing with the police officer; that’s better left for court.

The police officer may ask you to sign your ticket, which you should do, even if you are innocent. Signing your ticket does not admit guilt, and you can still contest the violation at a later date. If the officer asks you to perform a field sobriety test, you have the right to refuse it. However, if they suspect that you are drunk, you can still be arrested.

After the officer leaves

Once the officer leaves and you’re free to go, turn your car back on and calmly get back on the road. When you get a chance to pull over in a more convenient spot, do so, and take notes of the stop. Making notes of the exact location where you were pulled over, the traffic, and the weather conditions can provide you with extra evidence should you choose to contest your ticket at some point.

Getting pulled over by the police doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. Even though it may seem scary, the interaction is usually simple, straightforward, and quick. As long as you follow these steps, you’ll likely find your stop a lot easier and nicer than you were expecting.


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