Everyone around the country was appalled with the horror story that involved the shooting of Samuel DuBose in the middle of a traffic stop. When Sandra Bland passed away in a Texas jail after being pulled over for not signaling before changing to a different lane, America was shocked.
While there are many devastating factors that come into play in both of the previous situations, these examples are a good reminder to brush up on driver’s etiquette when the flashing red and blue lights are lit up behind you. Are you familiar with what to do if you get pulled over? Are you aware of what rights you have?
As a driver, when you see flashing lights that show you that you’re being pulled over, stay calm and take the following actions:
- Move your car to the right side of the street as soon as you can safely do so.
- Lower the volume on your radio and turn the engine of the car off. Roll down your window and stay seated. The police officer will come to your window.
- Stay calm and keep your seat belt buckled.
- Don’t exit your car unless the police officer instructs you to.
- Be sure your hands are in clear sight, and sit still.
The driver will need to present the vehicle registration, driver’s license, and car insurance proof to the police officer once the officer asks for them. The law enforcement officer might ask you if you have any idea why you’ve been pulled over, but you aren’t legally required to answer. One right you do have though is to stay silent. If you aren’t sure how to respond but feel that you should, it’s fine to say, “I’m not sure.”
Recording the Scene
If the officer requests that you exit your car, you’ll need to listen to them and get out. While you are legally entitled to videotape the traffic stop, be sure you don’t move quickly or suddenly to grab the camera. If you’re nervous, it’s likely that the officer might also be nervous and might wonder if you’re going to grab a weapon.
If the police officer requests to search the car, you don’t have to give your permission. This is the officer asking for your consent, and you aren’t legally required to let them. An exception applies here, though: if the policeman or woman believes that you’re hiding something illegal, they can legally search your car without your consent. This is why it’s tremendously important not to give them a reason to believe that you might be hiding anything. Also, if a passenger of yours is arrested then they can legally search the vehicle.
For the sake of everyone’s safety, it’s crucial to remain calm after being pulled over. Don’t become defensive, and don’t act in a hostile manner. If everyone cooperates, traffic stops can be quick; and they might even end up in a warning if you act accordingly.