Like it or not, there is bound to be a time when you drove a little too fast, or were a little late trying to beat that yellow light. If you do get pulled over by a policeman, what you say and do can have serious consequences.
You might be nervous, but remember that the officer never knows who might be behind the wheel. You can reassure him (or her) by dealing with the situation calmly.
Here are some tips to keep in mind the next time you’re pulled over.
No Sudden Movements
As soon as the officer decides to pull you over, they are watching you. Not necessarily because he expects you to grab for a gun, but because furtive movements could indicate you’re trying to hide something. Guilty people conceal evidence all the time and police look for such things. Sudden movement will only elevate the officer’s adrenalin.
When you’re pulled over:
- Roll down your window
- Put your hands on the wheel where they can be seen
- Sit quietly and wait for him to approach the car
- Say hello if you like, but wait for him to tell you what he wants
- DO NOT exit the vehicle unless asked
Don’t Start by Arguing
They didn’t pull you over to have a debate. The officer will likely ask you for your license, registration, and proof of insurance.
- Wait until he asks.
- If you reach for your wallet or glove compartment, do it slowly and let him know what you’re doing.
- Remain quiet with both hands on the wheel while he checks your ID.
Police have no obligation to explain themselves, answer your questions, or be your buddy.
Don’t be Rude
You don’t have to say “yes, sir” and ‘no, sir” constantly, but acting overly nervous, angry, or just saying more than is necessary can arouse suspicions.
- If you use false statements, verbal abuse, or shouts, that’s only going to get you in more trouble.
- If you don’t antagonize the police and have nothing to hide, just let him do his job, and you can go on your way.
Believe it or not, just being nice and reasonable can often mean the difference between a ticket and getting off with just a warning.
Don’t Refuse to Cooperate
There are legal limits to what an officer can do. However, in a bad situation, it’s not likely that he’s thinking over the statutes. Refusing or arguing any orders will make you appear resistant and could lead to arrest. Even if you feel your rights are being violated, just make a mental note of it and as many details as you can. You can discuss it later with your lawyer – not during a tense moment with the arresting officer.
Don’t Forget They Make Mistakes, Too
If you feel like you were wrongly pulled over, and need to state your case, do so politely and quietly, and calmly explain your viewpoint. Maybe the officer will see the light of day. If he doesn’t, and writes you a ticket anyway, accept it, consult an attorney and fight it later in traffic court.
- Don’t Say Too Much
- Keep your answers brief
- Be polite
- Do not volunteer information
- Don’t make excuses or give sob stories
- Don’t admit to anything
You may see the officer again, testifying in court. If you’re arrested, the right to remain silent is real – use it.
Police officers are just people doing a job, like you. The only difference is, they often see belligerent drunks, or guilty criminals trying to escape or hide evidence. Don’t act like one.