When you are driving down the road and you see those red and blue lights in the rear view, chances are you are getting pulled over. Do not continue to drive and hope that the police car goes away. Even if the police are not after you, you still need to pull safely to the side of the road. Do not keep driving because you run the risk of making the officer believe you are fleeing, and that can greatly compound the situation. When you pull over, try to pull over in a spot where the police officer can safely walk up to your car. Do not pull into the median of the highway, where the police officer will have to dodge traffic. This is a common courtesy that will be appreciated.
For most people, an encounter with the police can be a very frightening experience. But do not let your nerves get the best of you, because you may give off the impression that you are hiding something, which could lead to further investigation. Nine times out of ten, you will know why you are being pulled over, so there should not be any suprises. In the event that you are being pulled over for something serious, try not to panic and remain calm. Alerting the police to your fear will only draw suspicion on yourself.
Have Your Identification Ready
From the time you are pulled over until the time when the police officer approaches your vehicle, you will have ample time to prepare for the encounter. Take this time to have your drivers license and insurance information ready. This will speed the process and prevent the dreaded scenario of rustling through your glove box in front of the police officer only to have him/her see something incriminating in it. But in general, this will give the appearance of preparedness, and make the stop run smoothly
Initial Contact With Police Enforcement
When you see the police officer approaching, be ready to speak with them. Have your window down, your identification ready, and have your hands on the steering wheel. Do not be fooling around in your car or keep the police officer waiting, as this will only make you appear to be hiding something. Be prepared to interact with the police officer and try not to be intimidated by them. After all, they are just people like you and I.
Make No Sudden Movements
During the stop, the last thing you want to do is put the police officer on guard. Every year police officers are killed during routine traffic stops. So you do not want to give them a reason to believe that their life may be in danger. Any sudden movements or acts that could look like you are going for a weapon will not be well taken, and you run the risk of the police officer using force. Just sit tight, and it will be over soon.
Just because the police officer pulled you over, does not mean that you have to be disrespectful. Most police officers are just doing their job, and the last thing they want to deal with is an unruly driver who wants to make things difficult. Treat the police officer with respect, and the majority of the time, you will have the favor returned. But more importantly, treating an officer with disrespect can ruin your chances of being let off with just a warning, and increase your chances of further investigation.
Do Not Offer Incriminating Evidence
I stated above that you should be polite to police officers, but that does not mean that you should give them ammunition to use against you. You must remember that they pulled you over to investigate a traffic/criminal violation, which means they have interests adverse to yours. When a police officer asks you if you know how fast you were going, do not tell them that you were going over the speed limit. Do not offer excuses as to why you were speeding, because this only admits guilt. Once you admit guilt to a police officer, it makes your chances of a warning slim. So be courteous, but don't offer information that you are not required to give.
How to Respond if Asked to Step Out of Your Vehicle
In the event that the police officer asks you step out of your vehicle, remain calm. You may politely tell the officer that you would prefer to stay in your car. But if the police officer insists, do so, but inform him/her that you will not be answering any further questions until you speak with your attorney. While you are outside of the vehicle, remain calm and do as the officer asks. Hopefully this will be brief and you will soon be on your way.
Do Not Consent To a Car Search
Most people believe that if they consent to a car search, the police officer will assume they have nothing to hide, and not search the vehicle. This will NEVER happen. If you consent to a vehicle search, your vehicle will be searched thoroughly. That means if you have anything incriminating in the vehicle, it will be found and used against you. If you do not consent, the police have to follow certain procedures to look in places like the glove box and trunk. But if you consent, you are just giving them a free search when they otherwise would not be able to do so. If asked, just nicely tell them no.
When the Stop is Over
Once you have been issued a citation or warning, and the officer has cleared you to go, you still must be cautious. Once you begin to drive away, the officer may decide to follow you for a while to see if you violate any more traffic laws. So make sure to keep the speed limit, and stay between the lines. Especially in cases where you receive only a warning, you do not want to be pulled over again and given a ticket. Mind the the traffic laws, and get to your destination safely.