You see lights or hear sirens behind you. What Do you do next?
- Respond. Communicate to the officer that you see them by beginning to slow down, and turning on your turn signal, (moving to the right). Look for a SAFE place to pull over. Try to find a close parking lot or wide shoulder off the side of the road. Many officers will appreciate the consideration. Pull over as soon as is safely possible. This will give you a better chance of figuring out exactly where the officer says you broke the law. It may be a good idea to come back to that area later to assess whether or not the officer was being honest about how he/she determined your speed, witnessed your turn, etc.
- Show the Officer Courtesy. You will help them relax by showing them that you are not a threat. Roll down your drivers side window completely. If you have tinted windows, roll those down as well. After you have rolled down your window(s), turn off your engine and keep your hands on the wheel. If it is dark, turn on your dome light. When making any movements, do them slowly. Although you may be nervous, it is a good idea to speak calmly and politely to the officer. This will assure them that you have nothing to hide.
- Keep Quiet. Let the officer speak first. Do not incriminate yourself by admitting to doing anything wrong.
- Show Documentation, after the officer asks for it. The officer will usually ask for your license and registration right away. But do not reach for your documents until the officer asks for them. You may alarm him and he/she might assume that you are reaching for a gun or trying to hide something from him/her. Wait until he or she gets to the window and asks for your documents. The officer is not required to tell you why they pulled you over before you comply. Reach towards your purse, wallet, or storage compartment, but do it slowly so that you don’t alarm the officer. Once you have given the officer the documents, put your hands back on the wheel and keep them there until you are released to go.
- Keep your answers brief. Open-ended questions can get you into trouble, especially if the officer is trying to extract admissions out of you that can be used against you in court.
- If asked, “Do you know why I stopped you?” say “No.”
- If asked, “Do you know how fast you were going?” say “Yes.” Answering “No” will to imply to the officer that you are being negligent by not being aware of your speed/ the speed limit.
- If asked, “Is there some reason you are in such a hurry that you had to speed?” say, “No.” By saying “yes,” you are actually admitting to speeding. Even if you were not speeding the officer will believe that you were, and you’ll probably get a ticket.
- If the officer tells you your speed, say “I see”, or say nothing at all. Silence is not an admission of guilt.
- If asked “Have you been drinking?” You do not have to answer, and you should not answer without an attorney present. Simply say “I don’t have to answer that.”
- Do not answer any questions about your sleeping and eating patterns prior to the stop or any questions regarding where you were before being pulled over. If asked questions like these, respond by saying “I don’t have to answer that.”
- You do not have to participate in any Field Sobriety Tests and should decline to participate in the tests by saying “I do not wish to do any Field Sobriety Tests.”
- If the officer sees any illegal objects in plain view, he or she can open the door, reach in, and take them.
- In the USA, moving vehicles are subject by law enforcement to search with probable cause after a traffic stop. Probable cause may include observing occupants in suspicious activities, remarks and things that the officer can smell, see or hear like safety violations, open containers, potential weapons, etc.
If you are given a ticket, continue to be polite to the officer. Arguing with the officer will only make things worse. The proper place to contest your ticket is in traffic court. The courtesy and respect you show may encourage them to be more lenient.