You are driving along and see those dreaded flashing police lights in your rearview mirror. Maybe you know why you’re being pulled over, and maybe you don’t. Regardless, panic sets in. What should you do? Here are a few tips to make an interaction with the police less tense and more successful.
- Pullover as soon as possible. To alleviate any immediate suspicion on the police officer’s part that you might bolt or refuse to pull over, put on your signal and start slowing down at a reasonable pace to let them know you see them and you’re taking action. Pullover as quickly and safely as you can on the shoulder of the road.
- Stay seated until told otherwise. Once you have stopped, do not get out of your car. Police officers are sometimes attacked by drivers who have been pulled over, so before the officer walks over, roll down your window entirely and put both your hands on the steering wheel within sight. This will lessen any immediate suspicions that you might be dangerous.
- Do not reach for your license and registration until the officer asks for it. For the same reasons as above, reaching for your paperwork in your glove compartment may look like you are reaching for a weapon. Any stress that you save the police officer will help you.
- Make it easy to have a conversation. Maintain friendliness, and answer any questions briefly and calmly. If you make the police officer’s job easier, it is more likely they will make the situation easier for you.
- Do not apologize. It’s important to be serious about anything you have done wrong, and avoid inserting humour. However, apologizing can be used against you later as an admittance of guilt in court, if that is what it comes to.
- Do not launch into a long-winded excuse or get emotional. Getting angry, bursting into tears, or launching into a long explanation is frustrating for the officer, and will not help you. Let them do most of the explaining and listen patiently.
- Know that the police have a right to look around any visible areas in your car. Do not react angrily if a police officer starts peering into your windows to see what’s visibly on your vehicle’s seats. However, know they are not allowed to fully search the car without a warrant.
- It is likely the officer will ask if you have been drinking. Again, don’t get defensive or angry. When you are answering, the officer is looking for slurring words, sloppy body movements, and bloodshot eyes. If they suspect you have been drinking after talking to you, they might ask you to get out of the vehicle and conduct tests. Again, the more calm and agreeable you are, the better it will be for you.