Many of us have been stopped by law enforcement while driving our vehicles for a traffic infraction. As a result, we’re commonly asked about the proper protocol to follow when stopped by a law enforcement officer in your vehicle. Whether it’s because of a headlamp out, or mistakenly exceeding the speed limit, the driver of the vehicle and the law enforcement officer wish to feel safe. Here’s some advice on how to properly handle a traffic stop:
Wait inside your vehicle for the deputy to approach. Getting out of a vehicle quickly during a traffic stop is a common behavior trait of criminals, who intend to flee or cause harm to the deputy. Please stay put. If there’s a reason you need to get out, explain it to the deputy when he/she gets to your window.
Place your hands on the steering wheel. This shows us that there’s nothing in your hands, and that you’re not reaching for anything. Again, criminals like to hide items in their hands, oftentimes weapons or narcotics. The law enforcement officer will allow you to obtain your license and registration, there’s no hurry.
If you are asked to leave your vehicle, do so slowly without threatening actions. Nobody wants to get hurt. You want to go home safely and so do we.
If you receive a citation, you will have a chance to explain your account in traffic court. The side of the road is not the place for a traffic hearing, it’s dangerous. If the offense is particularly egregious, you may even wish to solicit legal representation.
Finally, stay calm. Arguments, disorderly or abusive actions may end poorly for the driver or the officer. At the end of the day, it’s only a traffic stop, and acting out may only cause everyone greater grief.
Most traffic stops go completely fine, with no ill complications. Help us get you back on the road expeditiously by thinking about your actions and acting appropriately on a traffic stop. It benefits all of us. Drive carefully.