When you see those flashing blue lights behind your car, good things usually do not follow. Whether you’re being pulled over because you broke a law, or because an officer thinks you’ve broken the law is irrelevant at this point. The only intelligent option is to pull over in a safe location and remain calm.
Rule 1: watch what you say
“Was I speeding back there officer?” is not the appropriate way to start a dialogue with police. Let them do the talking, and comply with their requests. Be polite, and if they ask whether you know why you’re being pulled over, your only response is “No, officer.”
It’s their job to tell you what you’ve done wrong, so let them do it. We’ll have more on this later.
Rule 2: stay calm
It’s easy to get upset because you think you’ll be ticketed, but remember that it’s far from the end of the world. Officers are not pulling you over because they want to give you a hard time – they’re just trying to do their job to uphold the law. If you’re being pulled over, it’s because they saw you break the law or they have reason to believe you are breaking the law.
If you know you haven’t broken any laws, then you have nothing to worry about. If you’re ticketed when you feel you’re innocent, take your evidence to court and let the justice system do what it is designed to do.
Rule 3: be polite and respectful
This may as well be the golden rule. Remember that police officers do not have an easy job. Anytime you come into contact with them, it helps to be polite and show respect. Here are some other useful tips.
- If it’s dark, turn on your cabin light.
- Before the officer gets to the window, place your hands on the steering wheel so they are in plain sight.
- Know exactly where your insurance and registration are. If it’s in the glove box, we recommend letting the officer know where it’s at, and announcing that you’re reaching in there to get it.
- If you know you’ve broken a law, and they know you’ve broken a law, own up to it. Take responsibility for it, and hope that your honest, polite, and non-threatening demeanor will be enough to get off with a warning.
Rule 4: know your rights
No person or organization is impervious to corruption. That’s why it’s imperative to have a sound knowledge of what police officers can and cannot do during a traffic stop. We’re not going to dive to deep in this realm (because it’s a lot to cover, and it’s your responsibility), but you can find everything you’re looking for here, here, and here.
Good luck out there!