Many people experience getting pulled over by a police officer at some point. These encounters vary in severity and legal consequences.
While police may pull a person over for many different reasons, those pulled over still have rights. Knowing what to expect and how you should respond helps you avoid further issues.
How to respond when pulled over
When you see flashing lights, pull over as safely and as possible. Use your turn signal and turn off the radio. Once you both stop, the officer may approach your vehicle from either side. You should keep both hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them. While you will likely feel nervous, try to remain calm and compose yourself as much as possible.
Roll down the window to communicate with the officer, keeping in mind that you have the right not to answer questions. You must show the officer your driver’s license when asked. Follow the officer’s instructions including getting out of the vehicle if necessary. Even if you disagree with the reason you got pulled over, arguing with the officer generally only worsens a situation.
What to do next
If issued a ticket, you need to sign it. If the situation leads to an arrest, you must go with the officer. Resisting arrest leads to a worse situation for you whether or not you are in the wrong legally.
Staying calm and following the officer’s instructions helps you avoid a potentially complicated or even dangerous situation. If you think a police officer violated your rights, consider taking action afterward rather than during the situation.