How Should a Person Act if Stopped by the Police?
How to Pull OverThe first step is to pull over as soon as practical. To put the officer at ease, you should use your turn signal, and move over to the right hand shoulder as soon as possible, and slow gradually to a stop. The key here is to make no sudden movements.
If it's at night, turn on your overhead lights and put your hands high upon the steering wheel. IMPORTANT! DO NOT reach for your DL or insurance until the officer asks you to do so! Sudden reaching movements may be misconstrued as an attempt to hide drugs or reach for weapons, and it might get you shot!
Every police officer see training films where drivers pull weapons on police officers and shoot at them. You may not have a weapon, but the officer doesn't know that! Your safety depends on putting the officer at ease, and keeping the officer at ease!
To an officer, the only reason for you to bend down or reach for something before he gets to your window is either to 1) hide your drugs, or 2) get your weapon!
Pull over immediatelyOfficers are trained to expect the worst from people. They assume that everyone is going to run from them, hide their drugs, grab their weapons, or worse. They rarely will give a driver any credit for doing anything logically. So rather than do what seems logical to you, and drive for another half a mile to pull over in a safe place, pull over immediately. If the officer thinks the location is unsafe, he will direct you to to move ahead to a safer place.
By pulling over immediately, you immediately show respect for the officer's authority, and you will put him at ease. The further you travel before stopping, the higher the officer's tension at what may be awaiting him in his upcoming confrontation with you.
No Quick Movements!Officers are trained to look for anything out of the ordinary. Sudden movements are a very bad idea when the person standing outside of your door has a gun! For all you know, that officer's partner was just shot by someone matching your description. Until you know exactly what is going down, don't move until you are told, and tell the officer before you move!
For example, if your proof of insurance in is the glove box, tell the officer "I have to get into the glove box to get my insurance," or "I have to reach into my wallet to get my driver's license." Then reach slowly. And don't take offense if the officer leans way into your car and shines his flashlight where you are reaching. They are taught to do that. They want to see that gun before you can grab it and shoot them! That's really what they are doing, and they see very little humor in your making fun of their paranoia!
No Admissons!A smart cop will generally ask "Do you know why I pulled you over?" - to see if your response alerts him to anything. A really dumb answer would be: "I guess you smelled the marijuana?" Or, "You probably saw my inspection sticker was out." Or, "I wasn't wearing my seat belt." Any of those answers might get you charged with an offense the officer hadn't caught.
A much better answer would be: "I have a pretty good idea, but why don't you tell me?"
No Searches!Whatever you do, do not consent to a search! The police wouldn't ask for your consent if they had probable cause to search you. NEVER consent to a search!
And if they play the "You're not hiding anything illegal, are you?" routine, and follow up with the "So you don't have any reason not to let me search your vehicle?" I recommend that you ask them if they believe in the US Constitution, and say that you respect it, too, and would never agree to a search without probable cause. They won't like it, but they'll understand...
Sign the Ticket and Get the Heck Out of There!If the officer asks you to sign a ticket, sign it and get the heck out of there! You are not likely to talk them out of the ticket, you can't fight the ticket until you get to court anyway, and things could get a whole lot worse if you don't sign the ticket. Signing a ticket is never an admission of guilt, and most jurisdictions allow the officer to arrest you if you don't sign the ticket. If you argue, you are only giving the officer a reason to remember you and to remember the incident. If you quietly blend into the background, the officer might forget the entire incident and the case might get dismissed at court if you choose to fight it.