What to Do if You Are Pulled Over
Few things set you on edge like seeing the telltale blue lights of a police cruiser in your rearview mirror. Knowing what to do and what not to do can help immensely. Familiarizing yourself with the appropriate protocol for when you are pulled over by the police can help protect your legal rights as well as your personal safety.
When you are pulled over by a police officer, your priority should always be safety – your safety, the officer's safety, and the safety of everyone else on the road. That being said, it is important to react quickly to the officer's signal to pull over. Part of being a safe and responsible driver is paying attention to the traffic all around you – including any flashing blue lights behind you. There are several steps involved in pulling over safely:
- Immediately slow your vehicle and use your blinker to indicate your movement
- Pull over onto the righthand shoulder, and if there is no shoulder, find a nearby parking lot or another safe place to stop.
- Come to a stop as quickly as you can safely do so – you do not want the officer to think you are attempting to flee.
- Turn your car off (including your radio if it is on), but leave your lights on (if they were on to begin with).
Interacting with the Officer
Once you have come to a safe stop, you are required to interact with the officer who stopped you. It is important to recognize that police officers' jobs put them in harm's way much of the time, and as such, they must proceed with caution. If you keep this in mind, it can help make a tense situation more natural. Some basic policies should guide your behavior after being pulled over:
- Move slowly, do not make sudden movements, and do not reach into your glove box or anywhere else without being instructed to do so.
- Do not exit your vehicle unless you are instructed to do so.
- Follow any instructions issued by the officer as exactly as you can.
- If the officer issues you a ticket, sign it. This is not an admission of guilt – you have 10 days before you must pay the fee or appear before the court. The police can arrest you for refusing to sign a ticket that they issue you.
If You Are Arrested
If the officer arrests you, do not resist. Remain silent throughout the process – because, of course, anything you say can be used against you. Let the arresting officer know that you want an attorney present for any questioning.