Traffic Stop Etiquette

When those red and blue flashing lights appear in your rearview mirror, your next couple of decisions can have a big impact on how the interaction goes and, ultimately, whether you receive a ticket. If you keep these five key things in mind when stopped by an officer, you will increase your chances of having a smooth interaction.

  1. Pull Over Immediately.

As soon as you see those flashing lights, pull over as quickly as possible. You want to show the officers from the very beginning that you plan to follow all rules and proper procedures. Pulling over as soon as you see their lights is one way to establish this. 

  1. Roll Down Your Window.

Once you have pulled over and turned off your car, roll down your window so that you can speak directly with the officer. Do not open the door or exit the car. As long as the window is down and you can communicate with the officer, this should be sufficient. 

  1. Keep Your Hands on the Wheel.

Throughout the entire stop, unless directed to reach for something, keep both hands on the steering wheel. When the officer asks for your license and registration, tell the officer where they are stored (whether it is in your wallet, purse, glove compartment, etc.) and let him or her know where you plan to reach for those items. Wait for the officer to confirm that it is fine and then proceed. Once you have turned the items over to the officer, immediately place both hands back on the wheel. 

  1. Do Not Admit Guilt.

An officer may ask you if you know why you were pulled over or if you know what violation you committed. Never admit to committing a traffic violation until you have spoken with a criminal defense attorney.

  1. Do Not Take on an Argumentative Tone.

Finally, be respectful and polite during the entire interaction with the officer. Follow all of his or her instructions, stay calm, and do not take on an argumentative tone. You might feel tempted to defend yourself or, if you are nervous, to ramble and share too much information. Resist these urges and instead calmly respond with simple yes or no answers and keep your words to a minimum. 

If You Do Receive a Traffic Violation

If you follow these tips, it is more likely than not that your traffic stop will be uneventful. However, that does not mean that you will necessarily be off the hook. If you do receive a traffic ticket, we can help. Reach out to us for a free consultation to see how Attorney Jeremy Cotten can help you.