If you are stopped by the police, you can take steps to handle it properly and possibly avoid a routine stop escalating into an arrest. This could also help you if you need to challenge a ticket, DUI arrest, or an arrest for other crimes.
What to Do When the Police Pull You Over
You may be nervous if you see a police car’s flashing red lights in your rearview mirror. That’s normal. Keep in mind that the more you do to remain calm and ensure the police officer’s safety, the more you protect your own safety and avoid unnecessary criminal charges. You should take the following steps:
- Pull over. Pull over to the right side of the road quickly and safely. Use your turn signal when changing lanes to signal to the officer that you are pulling over.
- Roll down your window. Roll down your window all the way and put your hands on the steering wheel. If it is dark outside, turn on your inside light. Make any movements slowly. Do not reach for your wallet or your vehicle registration until the police officer requests them as he may think you are pulling out a gun.
- Let the officer speak first. Wait for the police officer to talk before speaking so as not to make the mistake of saying the wrong thing. Be brief when answering his questions.
- Follow any orders. You should follow any orders of the police officer-including getting out of your vehicle if he requests you do so. This is so the police officer will not see you as rebellious or resistant.
- Do not argue. Refrain from arguing with the officer, even if you think he did something wrong. Do not dispute the ticket if he gives you one. You should save these arguments for court.
How to Answer Police Questions
Understanding why the police ask this common question can help you know how to respond. The police officer asks it to find out two things:
- He is trying to get you to admit guilt to some crime or traffic violation.
- He is looking for a reason to investigate further, such as to administer a field sobriety test if he suspects you of driving while intoxicated.
If you are asked if you know why you were stopped-or any question-you need to remember that the police officer will record your statement in his police report and it could be used against you later. With so many police officers wearing video cameras, whatever you say would be taped for later use. You should do the following in answering police questions:
- Be brief and non-committal. You should give short, non-committal answers, such as “No,” “Yes,” and “I see.” Do not offer additional explanations.
- Do not be rude. You should remain polite to the officer to not make what could be a routine traffic stop escalate into a more serious charge.
- Exercise your right to remain silent. You do not have to speak to the police officer. Depending on the situation, you may want to say, “I’m going to remain silent,” if you do not feel comfortable giving even non-committal answers.
If you were stopped by the police and received a ticket or were arrested, you need to contact an experienced attorney to help you build your defense.