To prevent this from happening to you or someone you love, it’s important to know what to do and what not to do if you are stopped by police.
While citizens do have rights when it comes to being pulled over by police, here are things you can do to decrease the chance of confrontation.
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.
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.
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 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 Nichols Zauzig does not guarantee or predict results in similar cases.