Getting pulled over by the police is something that’s likely to happen to everyone at some point in time. Perhaps your taillight is out, your registration is expired or you were speeding. Whatever the reason, seeing those red and blue lights in your rearview mirror can cause panic and anxiety. Though getting pulled over is never fun, there are some actions you can take to make sure your encounter with the law enforcement goes as smoothly as possible.
Plan ahead: Keep necessary paperwork in vehicle
Be sure you always have your driver’s license on you when operating a vehicle. You should always keep an up to date proof of insurance card, as well as your car registration, in the glove box or other easily-accessible place in your car. Keep these important documents in a folder or somehow separate from other materials you may have (car manuals, etc.). If you get pulled over, you want to be able to easily access these documents for the police to review. Also make sure you keep your registration, license and insurance remain current- you do not want to get fined for any of these items being expired.
It is worth noting that your car title should not stay in you vehicle- this should be kept at home for safety reasons. If your car were to get stolen, it would be very easy for the thief to sell you car, no questions asked, with the car title in their possession.
As prepared as you may be, circumstances can still arise where you get pulled over. Here’s how you should handle the situation:
Pull over and open the drivers’ side window
Slow down and activate your turn signal to indicate to the officer that you intend to pull over. Find a parking lot or wide shoulder where you can safely pull your vehicle over. Open your drivers’ side window and turn on any interior lights if it is dark. Put the car in park, turn off the engine and place your keys on the dashboard to give the officer confidence you won’t try to run. Be sure your hands are on the steering wheel or somewhere where they can be seen. Make movements slowly and only reach for paperwork when asked- you don’t want the officer to think you are reaching for a weapon.
It’s easy to get worked up and emotional when you get pulled over, especially if it’s the first time it happens to you. Take a deep breath, and stay calm and relaxed. Law enforcement is more likely to take you seriously and perhaps go easier on you if you’re calm and not overly emotional. Plus, you’ll be able to think and listen more clearly if you don’t let your emotions get the best of you.
Make eye contact with the law enforcement and listen closely. Keep answers short and concise to any questions they may ask, and most importantly do not admit any guilt, as you are not legally obligated to admit anything. If the officer asks if you know why you are pulled over, simply state you don’t know and have them explain it to you.
If you are issued a ticket, remain calm and polite to the officer, and do not fight back…you can always take actions later by arguing your case in court. Instead, thank the officer and be polite, they’ll be more likely to show you the same kindness.
Regain composure before leaving
Once the ordeal is over, take a moment to take a deep breath and regain a sense of calm and focus before driving away. You don’t want to be stressed or emotional when getting back on the road. After all, you don’t want to risk getting pulled over yet again!
Getting pulled over is never fun, but you can make the experience much less stressful for all parties involved by being prepared, staying calm and remaining professional. Remember that the law enforcement is only trying to keep the roads safe for everyone, and you can do your part by driving safe, or at least being able to handle an encounter with law enforcement in a calm and collective manner.