Expired tags. A burned out headlight. Going over the speed limit. No matter how careful you are behind the wheel, new and experienced drivers can still slip up on the road. If you or your family members get pulled over by a police officer, here are eight helpful steps to help you handle this sometimes intimidating situation like a pro.
Step 1: Turn on your emergency flashers.
When you see the red and blue flashing lights in your rearview mirror, immediately switch on your hazard lights. This tells the officer that you know you’re being pulled over and are looking for a place to park your vehicle. If you can’t locate your flasher lights under pressure, put your blinker on to signal your direction.
Step 2. Pull over somewhere safe.
Sometimes you can easily pull into a parking lot to get off the road, or if there is plenty of room on the shoulder of the road, you can pull over there. If you feel unsafe for any reason after you pull over, ask the officer if you can relocate. You don’t want to keep driving and have the officer think you’re ignoring him or trying to “make a run for it.”
Step 3: Roll down your window and turn off the car.
Once you’ve pulled your vehicle over, roll down your window completely and turn off your car. If it’s dark, you should turn on your interior dome light. Then, put your hands on your steering wheel and wait for the officer to come to your window. Don’t do anything else at this time since moving around or reaching for things could look threatening to the officer.
Step 4: Remain calm!
Getting pulled over isn’t the end of the world. Take a few deep breaths, and remind yourself that it happens to almost everyone at some point. The more calm, cool, and collected you are, the smoother your interaction with the police officer will go.
Step 5: Follow directions and be polite.
Whether or not you think you did something wrong, it’s important to be civil when speaking with a police officer. Keep your answers short and simple, and stay calm and courteous. Arguing your case with the police officer on the side of the road is not the right time or place. Instead, contest the ticket in the court of law.
Step 6: Apologize if you did something wrong.
Police officers are people too, and sometimes acknowledging your wrongdoing and saying, “I’m sorry!” can go a long way. If the officer knows you realize your error and are remorseful, they may let you off with a warning.
Step 7: When asked for license, registration, and proof of insurance, tell the officer where it is before reaching for it.
Always remember, traffic stops are extremely dangerous for police officers. They’re often met with hostile and angry drivers; therefore, gestures that might seem harmless to you can look like a threat in the eyes of an officer. When they ask for your license and registration, tell them exactly where these documents are located and where you’re going to be reaching. For example, you could say, “My license is in my bag in the backseat, and my registration is in my glove box,” before you move to grab anything. Or you could have it ready before the office gets to your car door.
Step 8: Sign your ticket.
If you’re given a ticket, the police officer will make you sign it before letting you go. If you plan on contesting it in court, don’t worry — signing it doesn’t mean you agree with the ticket. It is only an acknowledgment that you were pulled over and received the citation.
Step 9: Be extremely careful when merging back into traffic!
You might be flustered, angry, or upset after being pulled over. Take a few calming breaths and use caution when getting back onto the road. Don’t let your heightened emotions lead to a bigger problem! Turn on your signal, check for oncoming cars, and drive safe!
Getting pulled over can be stressful and scary for drivers, and it’s important to be prepared with these tips. It’s ALSO important to make sure you and your family have their driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. Call ABC Insurance Agencies at 1-800-708-0123 or visit a nearby store to compare multiple insurance quotes and get the right car insurance for your needs!