Flashing red and blue lights come on behind you on the highway. You look in the mirror, and there’s a police car a few feet from your back bumper. You’re getting pulled over.
Forget for a moment if you think you did anything wrong. Maybe you don’t have any idea why they’re stopping you. Maybe you wonder if it’s a legal stop at all. No matter what, here are a few tips that can help make the interaction with the officer go smoothly.
- Signal and pull over as soon as it’s safe to do so. Even delaying for a second or two puts the officer on edge.
- Look for a safe place to stop. For instance, pull as far onto the shoulder as you can on the interstate. On a city street, you may want to pull into a parking lot. This keeps the officer safe, which they’ll appreciate.
- If the officer is aggressive, keep your cool. Don’t let them escalate the situation. Stay calm, no matter how they act toward you.
- Remember that you don’t have to admit anything. They may start by asking if you know why they pulled you over, and you can simply say that you don’t. If they really start questioning you, you may want to tell them you need a lawyer to answer questions.
- Keep your hands in view. If you need to move them to grab anything — like your wallet — tell the officer what you’re doing, or ask if it’s all right to do so.
These tips can make the interaction go smoothly, but you could still get arrested, perhaps on allegations of impaired driving or other serious charges. Make sure you know what options you have moving forward.