5 Things To Do If Stopped By the Police In a Car

Easy steps to remember if you are ever stopped by the Police to make the stop quicker and safer for all involved.

Please share these easy steps with all drivers, being stopped by the Police does not have to be a bad experience. 

  1. Signal your intention to pull over and pull over as safely and quickly as possible
  2. Turn on your interior lights if it is dark – keep your hands on the steering wheel. Passengers should keep their hands on their laps and visible.
  3. Do not do anything until you are told to. Do not reach for any articles like registration or insurance papers. When asked, explain where they are and that you are reaching for them.
  4. Never exit the vehicle or approach the officer unless instructed to do so.
  5. NEVER argue, save that for court. Be polite.


These five easy steps are to help a routine traffic stop that can be very nerve wracking for any motorist be less time consuming, less frustrating and in the end have less consequences.

Most often people have more problems by not following these very simple steps outlined. The steps help officers to feel more comfortable and less aggravated while doing their jobs.

The simple explanations for each step are as follows.

By signaling your intent to pull over you show the officer that you are acknowledging his wishes to pull you over and that you are looking to pull over safely.

By turning on your interior lights and keeping your hands on the steering wheel the officer can see your hands and knows that you do not have any weapons.  The same applies to your passengers. While you may not be a threat, the officer themselves has no idea who they just pulled over. If they pulled you over for speeding for instance, you may have just committed a crime that you we rerunning from and do not want to be caught. They have no way of knowing this or not. Put them at ease by keeping your hands empty and visible.

While your intent to have paperwork ready to hurry the stop along may be admirable, many times motorists make officers nervous because the officer reaches the vehicle and the motorist has their back to them and their body shielded to the officer rummaging for paperwork. The officer cannot see their hands or what they have in them. It is best to wait for instructions and see exactly what the purpose of the stop is and what the officer requires of you.

At that point you can tell the officer, my paperwork is in my glove box, in my purse, in a side compartment, in a briefcase or wherever you keep it. Point to it and show your intent that you will be reaching for it as the officer watched you for his safety.

Always stay where the Officer has instructed you to stay. The officer is responsible for you once they have you pulled over. If you exit the vehicle, you can be struck by another vehicle or you may be preparing to attack the officer as is often the case with many assaults on officers across the country.

Always stay with your vehicle unless instructed to do otherwise. So the officer has no reason to feel threatened by you.

Lastly, many people do not think that the officer was correct n the reason that they stopped them. They may believe that they have the right to see documentation such as “RADAR” logs or equipment on the side of the road and contest the stop with the officer.  Generally, speeding tickets given are given on the officers observations and RADAR just verifies the officer’s observations.

RADAR logs, supporting depositions, certificates of training and all other documentation regarding your traffic stop can be provided to the court at your request when you go to court. But arguing with the officer on the side of the road will only agitate them.

Questioning their authority to initiate the stop, the laws that they are enforcing, the methods that they are using, vehicle that they are riding in or anything else will not get you out of a ticket in the end. It only will draw more attention to you and your vehicle, costing you more time and aggravation.

**The ONLY time I would advocate caution in compliance is with unmarked vehicles in desolate areas where there is a question of being pulled over by a vehicle that may not actually be a Police Officer. In that case and that case alone, contact 911 immediately and tell them where you are and your circumstances.

911 will give you further instructions on how to proceed and if in fact the vehicle that is attempting to pull you over is indeed a Police officer. If it turns out that the vehicle is a Police Officer, when he arrives at your vehicle, immediately apologize for not pulling over and explain that you were unsure if it was indeed a police officer trying to pull you over or an impersonator. That you were fearful so you contacted 911 immediately and when you were assured of that officer’s identity you pulled over immediately.

Be polite.

Remember the officer does not know you or if you are dangerous.

They are just trying to do a job.

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