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Traffic Stops: What to Do When You See the Lights


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It’s not every day that a driver finds themselves in a traffic stop with a police officer. When they do, knowing your rights and following procedures can make the process much smoother. Police officers perform traffic stops for many reasons, so it is not always obvious why they pull over a vehicle.

Regardless of the reason, acting politely and appropriately can do nothing but help the situation. Whatever is said or done during the stop can be used in further legal procedures. Here are some steps to take to avoid any further trouble after you are stopped.

Pulling Over

The moment the red and blue lights appear behind your vehicle, find the nearest safe area to pull over on the right-hand side of the road. If there are no safe areas to pull over in your immediate area, proceed with caution to the nearest safe space while avoiding any sudden accelerations. .

Additionally, it is crucial to make sure your vehicle is a safe distance from oncoming traffic on the right side of the road when pulling over. Keep in mind; the police officer now has their full attention on the vehicle while exiting the roadway. While it can be easy to panic, keeping calm and following driver safety regulations, like using a turning signal, checking for oncoming traffic before switching lanes, and slowing down at an appropriate rate, can help display your driving skills and avoid any further charges.

Listening and Complying

Once the car is pulled over in a safe area, roll down the driver’s side window and turn off the engine. Be sure to turn off the radio and place your hands on the steering wheel. Turning on the interior lights at night will also help the officer see you and know that you are compliant.

While it can be tempting to be proactive, do not start to locate your driver’s license or registration until the police officer requests them. Finding them in advance might be an innocent effort to improve the encounter, but the best way to do so is to remain in the driver’s seat and await the officer. Avoiding the temptation to try to get out of the ticket and, instead, being civilized may help reduce the chances of additional charges or sudden acts from the officer.

Taking these initial steps will not only protect you against any further charges or hostility, but it will help the officer feel safe approaching your vehicle during a traffic stop. Following all the officer’s directions and providing the correct information when prompted is proper procedure and will help in the moment and further legal proceedings.

Remaining Calm

If there is an opportunity, reflecting on the incident is a good idea to prep for the conversation. Take a moment to think about what happened and why. Having the answers is a good idea but being prepared to ask questions and understand the merit behind the traffic stop and your rights is also essential. Refrain from admitting to any crimes as this information can be used against you in court if necessary.

“It can be easy to become overwhelmed or emotional during a traffic stop,but a drivers actions during the stop can greatly impact the outcome” says criminal defense attorney Andrew Lindsey. While it is often an upsetting or stressful situation, following these simple steps will help drivers remain calm and control the situation.

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