Pulled Over? Here are the First Three Things You Must Do

Even routine traffic stops can be stressful experiences if you don’t know what to expect or how to handle yourself. To prevent unnecessary conflict, do these three things immediately after you’ve been pulled over by a police officer. 

#1: Safely pull over.

The first thing you should do when you see flashing lights in your rearview is signal to the officer that you’ve seen his lights and that you intend to pull over. Turn on your flashers to let the office know that you plan to pull off the road. This will keep both you – and the officer – safe. Look for a place that has a wide shoulder and is in a well-lit area, if possible. Parking lots are also great places to pull over as they minimize the risk of danger from passing traffic. Once you’ve pulled over and cut your engine, remain in your car with your seatbelt fastened and wait for the officer to approach. 

#2: Remain in your car and stay calm.

While remaining in your car, roll down your window and place both hands on the steering wheel. Take a few deep breaths and wait to take action until the officer directs you to move. It’s a good practice to return your hands to the steering wheel and continue taking calm breaths as the officer checks your documents or questions you. 

#3: Cooperate with the officer.

When the officer begins to ask you questions, treat him or her courteously and respond with “yes sir” or “no ma’am.” A common question an officer will ask is “do you know why I pulled you over?” Even if you do know (for example, you know you rolled through a stop sign), simply answer “no, sir, I do not know why.” You want to be cooperative but also want to avoid admitting to any traffic offense.

Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer

While these tips will help the traffic stop proceed as smoothly as possible, they can’t prevent you from getting a traffic ticket if you’ve committed a traffic offense. If you are issued a traffic citation, reach out to a North Carolina criminal defense lawyer to assist you with your case.

If you find yourself in need of assistance, Attorney Cotten can help. He has served hundreds of clients through Wake, Johnston, Harnett, Orange, Sampson, Lee, and Chatham Counties and is ready to meet with you to discuss your case. Give him a call or head to the main page to speak with a legal assistant 24 hours a day.