4 facts to know: Virginia’s new law about police stops and teens

By May 11, 2017 December 10th, 2018 No Comments

Governor McAuliffe signed that into law this week. Here’s what you need to know about it:

Facts about the new law


It was crafted in response to the growing issue of police-related shootings caught on cameras and spread via social media and online.  Since 2015, 193 people inside moving vehicles have been killed by police, according to the Washington Post.

Who else?

Virginia is one of only four states who enacted, or are considering, this type of law.

What happened before this?

Currently, students may learn how to interact from police informally from parents, siblings, friends or teachers who decide it is important to share. But the driver’s ed curriculum and manual gives just minimal advice: “Stay calm.”

What will be taught?

The curriculum isn’t determined yet, but is in the works.

Did you know?

Prior to this, state code made no mention of how to interact with police, even though it details instructions for fuel efficiency, motorcycle safety and organ donation.

We’ve put together tips for handling traffic stops gleaned from years of experience with police and traffic defense cases. Feel free to share:

Our tips for handling a police stop wisely

While citizens have rights when it comes to being pulled over, here are things you can do to decrease the chance of a confrontational interaction with police when being  pulled over:

Signal safety

When you are being signaled by a police car or officer, immediately pull over, stop, turn off your engine and turn on the interior lights if it’s dark. Put your hands on the steering wheel and await the police officer’s arrival at your window. Remember, the officer is human too—his own safety is a concern. He will see your hands are not fumbling for a potential weapon, you are not hiding anything in the dark, and you are not going to speed off.

Watch your words

Police officers often ask if you know why you were stopped. Always politely answer, “No, I do not officer.” This prevents you from making a statement that can incriminate you in court. It is a fallacy to believe admitting to your violation will put you on the good side of the officer—they are professionals. Admit to nothing, so nothing you say can be used against you.

Announce Actions

When the officer asks for your license and registration, tell him you will need to open the storage area where it is kept before you reach to do it. If you need to unbuckle the seat belt to reach into your back pocket for a wallet, announce your intention before moving. Verbalizing your actions shows the officer you are cognizant of the risks and respectful of his job.

Exit Strategy

If the police officer asks you to step out of the vehicle, do it slowly and carefully. Once out, politely ask the officer if you are being detained, and if so, would he please tell you when you are free to go. Secondarily, you should state that you do not consent to any voluntary searches. By doing this, you acknowledge the police officer is in charge of the situation, but you are aware of certain conditions related to the situation. Maintain your composure, and, if necessary, politely say that you refrain from answering questions without the presence of legal counsel.

If you have questions about the way your traffic stop was handled, or have been charged with a traffic violation, the experienced traffic defense attorneys at Nichols, Zauzig & Sandler, P.C. can help. Call for a free traffic defense consultation at 703-492-4200.


DISCLAIMER: The results of every case depend on factors unique to that case, and NZS Law does not guarantee or predict results in similar cases.

Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Hollingsworth, Nichols Zauzig

About the Author:
Michael Hollingsworth
Criminal Defense Attorney