You look back in your review mirror, and there he is. A police officer is driving very close you with his blue lights on. So, what do you do? The goal is to keep the law enforcement officer as relaxed as possible about your new relationship. You want to receive a warning if possible and avoid a ticket. And he may have a simple reason to pull you over, such as a taillight being out or an expired inspection sticker. Do not assume the worst and become defensive and angry.
Do not panic!: This is not the end of the world, you are just being pulled over. It may even be for something trivial or safety related.
Slow down, and acknowledge the officer: If you are speeding, slow down (do not slam on your brakes). Then wave your hands or flash your lights and acknowledge that you see him.
Pull over and away from traffic: Try to pull onto a side road or a parking lot. If you do have to pull over on a highway, move over to the side as far as possible. Chances are there are cars going by, and you do not want the police officer to worry about being struck by one.
Roll down you windows and turn off your car: Turn off the radios, roll the drivers and passenger side windows down (I do not care how wet or cold it is) and turn off the vehicle. Police are always waiting on someone to play a game of stop and go with a bit of high speed chase. They like this game, do not even let them think you want to play! Also, take your foot off the brake pedal, place the vehicle in park or neutral and engage the parking brake. Your car should look as immobile as possible. Do not be talking on the phone either.
What about the radar detector?: Turn your radar detector off. If the unit is on your dash, or mounted to your windshield leave it. The last thing you want the cop to see is you yanking things around and trying to stash something. This may even lead to a search warrant and possible vehicle impoundment. You do not want them thinking you have something to hide. They may not even notice it in some cars, or care. If you have a concealed radar detector, well you do not have to worry about any of this.
Put both of your hands on the steering wheel and leave them there: When the officer walks up to the vehicle he should see both of your hands on the steering wheel. This will make them very happy, because for them this is a dangerous part of their job. Making their job less stressful is a great way to get a warning instead of a ticket.
Tell any passengers to shut up and to not move: Everyone riding in the car should not say a word and keep their hands in their lap. Tell them if they talk they get to pay the ticket.
Be polite: Now is not the time to show displeasure or disrespect to the officer. Right or wrong you have been pulled over and are now under his authority. Say yes sir or ma'am. Smile. Do not argue or look angry.
Keep your mouth shut: Say as absolutely little as possible. Shrug or nod and smile a lot. Do not admit to anything or try to be funny or helpful. You really have no idea why you have been pulled over, so let the cop tell you. And if things go beyond a simple traffic stop, only talk with an attorney present. Do not be a jerk about this, but be careful what you say!
When getting your license and registration use one hand: You should keep your license, registration, and insurance information in easy to access locations. Now is not the time to dig though a glove box or purse. Try to keep one hand on the steering wheel as well, and move very slowly. Do not let the police officer even think you are pulling out a weapon or trying to hide something.
Are you in the military?: Well at this point you might just get out of all of this mess. Members of the armed forces have let me in on something they do. As you hand over your license, also hand over your military ID. There is a good chance the officer is ex-military and will be lenient with you. If they ask you why you did this, tell them your DI or commanding officer has instructed you to do so when dealing with authorities. If anything they will think you can follow orders. From what I understand, many people in the military who do this get a warning.
Are you a teacher or nurse?: Cops try to avoid giving teachers and nurses tickets. If you are a teacher, having some type of "I am a teacher" sticker on your car is a good idea. Same for nurses and EMTs.
When he goes back to his vehicle keep quiet: At this point the officer may have let you go with a verbal warning. If not he will head back to his car to do some paperwork. Do not get alarmed, in some departments he is required to do this. Keep both hands on the steering wheel, and have everyone in your vehicle stay quiet.
The traffic stop has ended: Hopefully the police officer has decided to give you a warning. Thank them, be nice, and then shut up. If you receive a ticket, take it and say nothing. You can still dispute the ticket in court, but now is not the place and time. Keep your emotions to yourself and get out of there.
I hope this helps save some of you get a warning instead of a ticket. If you have any comments let me know what you think here on our radar detector blog, give us a call (1-800-584-1445) or send us an email. Be a smart, protected and safe driver. - Danny