Law enforcement pulls over thousands and thousands of drivers each year. Most of these involve a moving violation or a warning because the driver was not following traffic law. Penalties include points off your license and perhaps an appearance in court for a misdemeanor or DUI.
Unfortunately, recent years have brought on a heightened stress level to these encounters. It can cause drivers or officers to panic, which means things will quickly escalate. Drivers can’t control how an officer will react, but they can try to set the right tone.
Do not act like a threat
Nothing causes officers greater anxiety than drivers acting aggressively or making verbal threats. Instead, diffuse that idea by showing no physical threat or danger. The driver can do this by:
- Pulling over as soon as it is safe to do so
- Turning on emergency flashers
- Rolling down your window as they approach
- Turning on the interior light to show there is no hidden danger
- Turning off the vehicle and place the keys on the dashboard
- Placing your hands on the dashboard
Responding to their instructions
The officer will ask for a license and proof of insurance. If you do not already have them, explain to the driver that you will retrieve them. Use slow, steady movements to execute the request. While any information volunteered could be used as evidence, the driver should be polite and answer such fundamental questions as your name. If the officer asks for incriminating information, the driver can calmly ask if they are under arrest. If the answer is yes, they can then inform the officer that they wish to speak with a lawyer.
If the officer arrests you, the good news is that your actions did not escalate the situation. It also may be possible that the officer made mistakes during the stop that worked in your favor. An attorney can lay out various options for fighting the charges or the premise of the stop.