Nearly 11 million people get arrested for a multitude of offenses every year. Many of those arrests that take place come as a result of traffic stops.
A lot of people don’t think that it will ever happen to them, but, inevitably, we all experience being flagged down by a police officer at some point.
When this happens, your reaction might be to get nervous, freak out, speak too much, act suspicious or do a number of other things that will not help the situation.
Being prepared is the best way to make it through getting pulled over by a police officer. Keep reading to learn seven of the most helpful things to keep in mind if you ever see flashing lights in your review mirror.
1. Turn On Your Hazard Lights and Get to Safety
The moment that you hear a siren and see flashing lights in your review mirror, quickly check to see if there is an officer that’s flagging you down. If the roads are crowded or confusing, the officer will likely speak over their PA system and describe your car before asking you to pull to the side of the road.
Once you’re sure that you’re getting pulled over, turn on your hazard lights and pull over to your right. If the police officer asks that you do something different (entering a parking lot for example) do what they say.
2. If Possible, Discreetly Record
There are a lot of cases today that pit police officer’s words against yours. If you’re at all concerned that your interaction with an officer could become tumultuous and you’d like evidence of your discussion, see if you can hit record on your phone and leave your camera running.
We can’t stress enough that if you can’t activate your phone’s camera discreetly, it may not be worth risking.
If a police officer sees you shuffling around in your car as they pull you over, they may use that as probable cause to search your vehicle.
3. Be Polite and Stay Relaxed
The vast majority of police officers are great people that are trying to keep you and your community safe.
They’re not looking for an altercation or to mess up your day. They simply want to alert you to what you’re doing wrong, issue you a ticket and be on their way.
Knowing that, roll down your window halfway, place your hands on the steering wheel and do your best to act natural.
4. Don’t Drive the Conversation
Getting pulled over by a police officer has the best chances of going smoothly if you let the officer drive the conversation. They’ll ask you a handful of questions and your only job is to answer them as briefly and as politely as possible.
Anything that you say can be used against you in court, so again, be concise in your answers and don’t offer up any additional information that might heighten the tension surrounding your situation.
5. Follow Orders But Don’t Incriminate Yourself
If you’re asked to produce your license, registration, and proof of insurance, do it. If you’re asked a question, as we mentioned in our last point, answer.
What you don’t want to do is offer up any incriminating information. If you’re asked something that could cause you trouble if answered honestly, let the officer know that you’re having trouble remembering.
Your 5th amendment right allows you to stay silent in an effort to keep yourself safe so if your interaction with a police officer gets to a point where you’re not sure how to proceed, you’re welcome to say that you’d prefer not to answer and wait for a lawyer to engage in further discussions.
6. If You’re Going to Move, Always Ask For Permission
One of the main reasons why traffic stops accidentally turn into fatal shootings is because people being pulled over make moves that lead officers to fear for their life. Do not ever give an officer reason to be skeptical of what your actions are going to be.
Every action that you take from rolling down your window to opening your car door should be verbally broadcasted to the officer prior to you taking said action.
7. If Arrested, Be Adamant About Getting Legal Counsel
Whether you’re refusing a DWI test or are being taken in because you have a warrant, the best policy is to keep your mouth shut.
When you’re being taken in, your Miranda rights will be read to you. Beyond giving a verbal confirmation that you understand your rights, you’re going to want to wait until you have legal counsel to have any further discussions with authorities.
It may be that when you arrive at the police station, an officer will sit down with you and start asking you questions. In these situations, you need to assume that the officer is trying to incriminate you.
The only words that should come out of your mouth are, “Please get me a lawyer.”
Wrapping Up What to Do When Getting Pulled Over
Getting pulled over might seem like the end of the world but 9.5/10 times, the event will only take a few minutes and then you’ll be on your way.
All you have to remember is that being calm, polite and compliant (when non-incriminating) can go a long way.
There are a lot of intricacies when it comes to the law. If you’d like more information on how to navigate tricky legal situations pertaining to personal or business issues, consider diving deeper into our blog content.