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How Should You Act When a Police Officer Pulls You Over?

One moment you're lost in your own thoughts, and the next moment you're trying your best to negotiate your way out of a ticket - or worse. If you've never been pulled over before or want to know the best way to stay friendly with the police officer, here are a few tips.

1. Turn on Your Flashers

The police officer needs to know that you recognize his or her authority and are planning to pull over. To signal your intent, turn on your flashers until you find a safe spot.

2. Find a Safe Spot to Pull Over

Don't immediately hit your brakes and stop in the middle of the road. This isn't safe, and it may even earn you an extra citation. Instead, look for a safe spot that leaves plenty of room for both you and the officer to park out of the way of traffic. An empty parking lot is ideal, but a large shoulder will work. Make sure you leave ample room between your car and the road so the officer has room to stand safely. If there isn't a safe area and you need to drive for a few minutes to find one, call 911 and let them know your intention. They can contact the police officer for you.

3. Turn Off Your Vehicle and Relax

Once you pull over, turn the vehicle off. Then try to relax. If you aren't sure why you were pulled over or want documentation of the incident, use your smartphone to record.

4. Turn on Your Interior Light and Roll Down the Window

Remember that police officers are often nervous in these situations, too, because they never know if you have a weapon or not. To ease their concerns and show you plan to comply, turn your interior lights on and roll down your window. You can also get your license, proof of insurance, and registration ready because the officer will ask for these things.

5. Be Brief

Wait for the officer to speak first, and answer questions politely but briefly. Don't elaborate, and never exit your vehicle unless the officer specifically asks.

6. Know Your Rights

If the officer wants to search your vehicle, you have rights.

  • The officer can grab anything illegal that's not hidden.
  • You may say "no" when the officer asks to search your car, but a search may still be done if the officer finds probable cause.

Being pulled over is a bit stressful, but you can handle the situation calmly. If you have questions about a citation you've received or need legal defense, The Nolan Law Firm is here to help.

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The Nolan Law Firm
1744 S Val Vista Drive, Suite 210
Mesa, AZ 85204

Phone: 480-359-3457
Fax: 480-539-1016
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