When you are driving on the road and see a police car, you are usually a little nervous and intimidated, which is completely normal. No one ever wants to get pulled over, because it usually results in receiving a ticket or even getting arrested. Although you may not be speeding or doing anything wrong, you still don’t want to see the red and blue lights flashing right behind you. If you do see those red and blue lights flashing behind you, it is very important to remain calm and understand the officer is just doing their job. Whatever you do and say when pulled over can be the determining factor as to what happens in any legal proceedings that could potentially happen. Most of the time, police officers are pulling you over for a minor traffic violation as they are just doing their job; they are not out to hunt you. When talking to an officer while pulled over, it is essential that you treat them with respect, if you want to be treated with respect by them.
What Are the Steps I Should Take When I Am First Pulled Over?
If you do see the red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror, the first thing you should do is pull over to the right side of the road and find a safe place where you can come to a complete stop. Make sure you use your turn signals to signal where you are stopping, and find a well-lit area if it is dark outside. After you have successfully pulled over and are stopped, you should roll down your window and turn off your ignition. Turning off your ignition shows the officer that you are not trying to potentially drive off. Afterwards, you should put your hands on the steering wheel to avoid any fears the officer may have. Do not scramble around the glove compartment looking for your insurance or any other possible information that will be useful until the officer tells you to. As a police officer, it is intimidating pulling someone over and not knowing who they are or what they could have in their vehicle.
Interacting with the Police Officer
When the police officer walks up to your window, it is important that you treat them with respect. Not being respectful to the officer, even if they aren’t being respectful, will make your situation a lot worse and can result in a difficult time. Responding to the officer with “sir” or “ma’am” generally shows that you want to give them your utmost respect and don’t want to cause any issues. The officer is going to ask for your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. Police officers are trained to expect that anything could happen to them, so you should tell them where those items are located and not make any sudden movements. When you give them your information, they will take it back to their vehicle and look you up in their system. They will come back with your information and inform you on your punishment, giving you a ticket, if need be. Being friendly and respectful to the officer can go a long way and even be the deciding factor whether or not they give you a ticket or just a warning.
Searching Your Vehicle
Typically, an officer who pulled you over for a traffic violation will not ask to search your vehicle randomly. If an officer notices anything suspicious in your car, including beer cans or bottles of alcohol on the ground in your car, he or she may ask to search your vehicle. Additionally, if he notices the car smells like marijuana or spots any in your vehicle, he may ask to search it. Officers are also looking for “furtive movements,” which are sneaky movements typically indicating that the person in the vehicle is hiding something, usually a weapon or drugs. The officer has the right to instruct you to step out of the vehicle and conduct a “pat down” if he is suspicious that you have a weapon or illegal substances on you. Police officers do not intend to search your vehicle, but they will ask to search it if they notice anything suspicious or see something illegal in plain sight.
All of these rules can seem obvious, but it is very common for drivers to not do all of these actions when they are pulled over. In most circumstances, doing all of these actions and treating the officer with respect will minimize the risk of receiving a ticket or even going to jail. It is important to know the rules of the road and properly obey them, to keep you and everyone else on the road safe. If you get pulled over and receive a ticket, our experienced attorneys at Ticket Busters can help you determine what the next best step is, and help you fight it in court, if you wish.