What To Do and Expect When Pulled Over by Police
It's not a situation any of us want to find ourselves in. When we get behind the wheel, we all hope to avoid getting pulled over. But sometimes, even when we think we are driving safely and obeying the law, things happen and we may find ourselves in the wrong. Maybe we accidentally rolled through a stop sign, or we're driving a bit too fast in a school zone. Whatever the reason, if you find yourself being pulled over by the police, it's important to know what to do and expect. Here are some tips from our team of experts at Trillium Driving School to help you through a traffic stop and sign up for courses at our Roswell and Lawrenceville driving schools so you can stay out of this situation.
What is a Traffic Stop?
A traffic stop is a temporary detention of a driver of a vehicle by police to investigate a possible crime or civil infraction. If an officer has a reasonable suspicion of a traffic or criminal violation, they may pull over a vehicle. The officer will then typically ask for the driver's license and registration.
Signs of a Traffic Stop
You will know when you are being pulled over as the officer will activate their emergency lights and/or siren. The officer may also honk their horn to get your attention and indicate that you should stop and pull to the side of the road.
Pulling Over Properly
Once you know you are being pulled over, it's important to pull over as soon and as safely as possible. You should indicate with your turn signal and pull off to the side of the road. Once you are safely pulled over, you should turn off your engine and along with any audio devices. With your vehicle off, you should then stay inside of it unless the officer asks you to step out. If you are pulled over at night, you should also turn on your interior lights to assist with visibility.
The Officer's Approach
Officers may approach either side of your car. Lower the appropriate window to speak with the officer. Doing so opens up a clear line of communication and helps to avoid any misunderstandings because with a lowered window the officer will be able to better hear you and you will not have to shout.
After you have done this, keep your hands on the steering wheel in a visible location. This is a safety measure for both you and the officer as it allows your hands to be easily observed. Additionally, inform the officer if you have any weapons in the vehicle so that they are aware and can take the appropriate precautions.
Conducting the Stop
Upon approaching your vehicle, the officer will typically display their law enforcement credentials. They are required to do this if they are not in uniform. If the officer does not show their credentials, you may ask to see them.
The officer will begin by explaining why you were stopped and may ask you questions regarding your trip. These can include questions about where you are going, how long you have been driving, or if you know why you were stopped. It's important to be polite and cooperative, but you are not required to answer any questions that could incriminate you. You may politely decline to answer any questions that make you feel uncomfortable.
In the event that you are pulled over, it is important to stay calm. This can be difficult, especially if you think you may have been driving perfectly and don't understand why you are being stopped. It is also difficult if you think the officer may be acting rudely or not following the procedure. Remember, the officer is just doing their job and you want to make sure the interaction goes as smoothly as possible for everyone's safety.
License and Registration
After the officer has approached your car, they will request to see your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance. Do not reach for these documents until you receive instructions to do so. If they are not within easy reach, inform the officer where they are located and wait for their acknowledgment before reaching to retrieve them.
After the officer has received your documents, they will go back to their vehicle to run a check on your license and to verify that your registration and insurance are up to date. While the officer is conducting the stop, they may also request backup if they feel it is necessary.
Leaving the Vehicle
Occasionally, police may request you to exit your car during a traffic stop, even if you have not been placed under arrest. This is usually done for the officer's safety, so that they can conduct a search of your vehicle, or if they need to verify your identity.
If the officer requests that you step out of the vehicle, you should do so in a calm and cooperative manner. Keep your hands visible and follow the officer's instructions. The officer will typically instruct you where to stand. You should follow these instructions and remain in that location until the officer tells you that you are free to leave. You should not try to run away or resist the officer in any way.
After the officer has finished conducting the traffic stop, they may issue you a warning, traffic ticket, or place you under arrest. Explaining their decision, the officer should give further instructions at this time. If they do not provide an explanation for their actions, you may politely ask them to do so.
If the officer issues you a warning or ticket, they will return to your car and give you the appropriate documentation. If the officer decides to let you go, they will also return to your car and let you know that you are free to leave.
Getting a Lawyer
If you have been arrested or issued a traffic ticket, you have the right to speak to a lawyer. You should exercise this right if you feel like you have been treated unfairly or do not understand the charges against you. A lawyer can help you understand the charges and potential penalties, as well as help you build a defense for your case.
Prevent This From Happening to You!
Whether you are in Roswell or Lawrenceville, Georgia, or anywhere else in the state, it is important to know what to do if you are pulled over by the police. But by attending a driving school like Trillium, you can help prevent this from happening to you in the first place. Learning the rules of the road and driving defensively can go a long way in avoiding a traffic stop. And if you are pulled over, following the tips above can help ensure that the interaction goes as smoothly as possible. Contact us to sign up for classes at our Roswell driving school and Lawrenceville location.