What to Expect at a Traffic Stop

When an individual first sees the police car with its emergency lights activated, it is important to pull over as quickly and safely as possible. Usually, this means pulling over to the right shoulder, or if no shoulder is available, pulling into an area where the car is not blocking the flow of traffic. While pulling over, it is also important that an individual uses their signals to let the police officer know that they are complying with the request to stop the vehicle. Additionally, if the traffic stop happens to take place during night-time, it may be best to pull over in an area that is well-lit.

Interacting With Law Enforcement

Once the car has pulled over safely, an individual should roll down the window and turn off the engine. It is also essential for the driver to place their hands on the steering wheel or somewhere in plain sight of the officer’s view. If the driver is pulled over at night, they should also turn on the car’s interior light. Do not reach for any documents until instructed to do so by the officer so that there is not the impression that the individual is reaching for a weapon.

Once the officer approaches they will likely ask for the person’s license, registration, and insurance, this information should always be provided to the officer without question. The officer may then ask questions regarding the specific violation that allegedly occurred.

Answering An Officers Questions

While a driver is not required to answer an officer’s questions at a traffic stop, it is important to be polite and cooperative so that the situation does not get any worse potentially leading to other charges. With that said, it is important never to admit to speeding because this could be used against the driver in an administrative hearing. If a driver is asked, “Do you know you were speeding?” they should politely inform the officer that they do not wish to answer the question.

The driver should also continue to keep their hands in plain sight of the officer’s view lest the officer gets the impression that they are reaching for a weapon. It is also important to remain in the vehicle when speaking with the officer unless the officer instructs the driver to do otherwise.

When Issued a Citation

After the driver gives the officer their insurance, license, and registration, the officer will return to their vehicle and use those documents to look up their information in the computer system. The officer then issues a citation and asks the driver to sign the documents. Once this process is complete, the driver is free to go.

It is best to not ask the officer anything when pulled over unless the driver is unsure as to the regulation that was violated. It is advisable to look at the ticket once it is received from the officer to see if it is accurate in the details. However, the driver should avoid asking the officer to correct any mistakes because such mistakes may be a basis to dismiss the ticket.

Unmarked Police Vehicles

If the driver is not sure about whether someone is a police officer, they should politely ask to see his or her photo identification and badge. If the driver is still not satisfied, they can request that the officer calls his or her supervisor or ask that to be allowed to follow the officer to the nearest police station.

The biggest mistakes to avoid during a traffic stop include making incriminating statements that may hurt you at a later administrative hearing, as well as being threatening or aggressive towards the police officer. If an officer becomes fearful for his or her well-being, the officer may search your vehicle and/or your person.