Behind the Wheel
What to Do If You Get Pulled OverOctober 10, 2016
Uh-oh! You see those red and blue flashing lights in your rearview mirror… what do you do? If this has ever happened to you, you know there are a million things that immediately race through your mind. While getting pulled over is never a pleasant experience for anyone, don’t worry–it happens to the best of us. You learn from it, and life moves on. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind if you ever find yourself in this situation. 1. Stay calm. Don’t panic. Keep your eyes on the road, and everything will be okay. 2. Turn on your flashers to acknowledge the officer. Especially if you think you have to drive more of a distance before reaching a stop, use your emergency flashers to let the officer know you plan on pulling over. 3. Slowly reduce your speed, you don’t want the officer thinking you are attempting to get away by suddenly driving faster. 4. Drive your vehicle to a safe area. Ideally you would pull over to the right side of wherever you are. Just think “safety first” for both the officer and yourself when scanning for the best location to stop. If the sun has set, look for a well lit area, if possible. 5. Once you’ve stopped, turn off your engine, roll down your window, and turn on your lights. These are considered signs of courtesy. Regardless of the situation, it can only help you. 6. Stay in the car. Take a deep breath and put your hands on the steering wheel as the officer approaches your vehicle. You don’t want to give them any reason to believe you’re a threat. If it helps ease your mind, the officer is probably nervous too. 7. Evaluate the situation and choose your words wisely. Everything you say can be admissible in court. Sometimes saying “I’m sorry” can work, but a good tip is to not say anything that indicates you are guilty. Don’t argue. If you are planning on contesting the ticket, save the arguing for the courtroom. Play it safe by just keeping your answers simple. 8. While it’s good to be prepared with your license and insurance, wait for the officer to ask for your documents. They don’t know what you’re reaching for, so just remain patient. If you have to dig around to find where you misplaced things, calmly let the officer know what you are doing. 9. Keep your hands visible throughout the process, and remember to stay calm and collected. 10. Know your rights. You don’t have to consent to a search unless the officer has probable cause. If for some reason they ask to search your car, politely accept or decline. Even if you have nothing to hide, heir on the side of caution and exercise your Fourth Amendment right by declining the search. 11. If the officer decides you are guilty and issues you a citation, sign it. Your signature means you promise to either contest the ticket or pay the fine. 12. Calmly return back to the road. Take your time storing your belongings and collecting yourself, then safely merge back into traffic and continue with your day.