Whether your driving to or from work, school, the bar or the gym, anytime you see a cop car pull behind us, we get nervous. We may not have even done anything wrong. In some cases, the police officer is just pulling onto the street. In other cases, those blue and red lights start to flash, and when that happens, our heartbeats really ramp up, and most likely, cuss words begin to flow from our mouths.
Many people who get pulled over, get so frazzled and begin assuming the worse, that they start to think and act irrationally. The stigma currently surrounding law enforcement doesn’t help subside these reactions; neither does driving impaired.
What not to do during a traffic stop
Being one of the 50,000 drivers that get pulled over daily, it is not a rare occurrence. To keep your rights intact, keep yourself safe and continue on your way without displeasing the officer, avoid the following eight actions.
- Do not get alarmed: The flashing lights are required and panicking does nothing but put yourself and the officer on edge.
- Do not release or reach for your seatbelt: Removing your seatbelt once pulled over can send a message to the police that you weren’t wearing one in the first place and could tack on another penalty and fine to tour ticket.
- Do not speak unless it’s imperative: Utilize the adage, “don’t speak unless you are spoken to,” to keep yourself in a better position. To police officers, speaking first is seen as being combative or admitting guilt. When it is your turn to speak, do so calmly and don’t argue.
- Do not reach for an item without informing the police of your action: Whether it’s your license, insurance or registration, always let the officer know of what you and reaching for and where. Keep your hands where the officer can see them at all times.
- Unless directed by the officer, do not leave your vehicle: An officer is initially unaware of the situation they are walking into during a traffic stop. If you get out of your car and approach the officer, a very tense situation is likely to ensue.
- Do not resist: If convicted of a crime, whether it be traffic or otherwise, do not resist the officer’s requests or act combative. Allow the officer to do their job as everything will be sorted out accordingly. If you resist, an arrest or worse could occur.
- Do not touch an officer: If you do this, the officer is likely to see you as a threat and act accordingly.
- Do not try to hide or outrun the police: It’s self-explanatory how bad of an idea this would be.
Lastly, do know your rights. During any traffic stop or interaction with the police, you have the right to remain silent. If you stay silent, you decrease the possibility of self-incrimination. You or your passenger has the right to film and your passenger has the right to ask if they can leave the scene. You also have the right to disallow a search of your car. Legally, law enforcement cannot search a search of a vehicle without the driver’s consent.