When you see those dreaded police lights turn on behind you while you are driving, there is a list of things that should immediately go through your head. No, your first thought should probably not be whether or not you could outrun the officer. Take a look through these tips on what you should do while you are getting pulled over to make the experience as smooth as possible.
1. Pull Over To A Safe Place – When you see those blue lights in your rearview mirror, take a deep breathe, turn on your hazard lights, and slowly begin to pull your car over to a safe place.
Make it a place that is both safe for your vehicle and for the officer. Common examples include the shoulder of the road or even a side street. If you’re near a business, you should also be able to pull into their parking lot.
2. Get Yourself Prepared – After pulling off to a safe place with your hazard lights on, go ahead and park your vehicle, roll your windows down, and turn your car off.
You’ll also want to have your license and registration in hand for when the officer approaches your car. If you’re pulled over at night, turn on your dome light so the officer can see inside your car.
Preparing yourself beforehand helps speed up the process. This also tells the officer you’re obedient, so you may be less likely to receive a ticket.
3. Stay In Your Vehicle – Hand over the documents and the officer will return to their car to run your information. They do this to look up your driving status, if you’re on parole, and if you have had past violations.
While the officer is doing this, stay in your car. Leaving your car for any reason can look suspicious.
4. Have Your Hands Out and Visible – Traffic stops can be very dangerous for police officers and they take each and every one very seriously. To help keep the officers calm and at ease, be sure to show them your hands throughout the entire traffic stop. The last thing you want is for the officer to think you’re a threat — especially if you’re not.
Keep your hands on the steering wheel. This position looks natural and the officer can easily see your hands from the window.
5. Keep Calm – Take a deep breath before the officer arrives at your window and keep your calm. Understand there’s nothing to be nervous about. Even if you broke a minor traffic law (not using your turn signal, etc.) this violation is nothing compared to what the police endures every day.
For the most part, drivers can get off with a warning. If the officer thinks you seriously offended a traffic law, you’ll be issued a ticket. Compared to other outcomes, a traffic ticket is simple.
6. Always Be Polite – Answer the questions that you are asked with politeness and don’t turn off your smart-aleck tendencies. Don’t talk more than you have to, just answer the questions the officer asks you and then wait. If you committed a minor traffic violation, such as driving a little fast, it’s best to admit it. They may let you off with a warning. Even if they issue a ticket, continue being polite to ensure the ticket doesn’t turn into a more serious charge.
However, you should always know your rights. You aren’t required to admit your offense. As long as you stay calm and polite, the officer will have no reason to suspect you of anything serious.
7. Tell The Officer If You Are Armed – This is very important! Whether you’re carrying a gun or pepper spray, the officer should know if you have any sort of weapon on hand. If you are carrying a gun, also display your gun permit.
Even if you don’t live in a “must inform” state, an officer has the right to ask for your weapon and to hold onto it for the duration of the stop.
Keeping the officer informed and at ease will almost always lead to a better outcome for you.
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