Traffic Stop

What to Do (or not) at a Traffic Stop

There are many reasons a person might need to make use of the bail bonds process: drug use or possession, theft, or getting in a bar fight are just three examples. A routine traffic stop should not give them reason to need it.

Here are a few simple tips on how to behave during a traffic stop to avoid trouble.

Pull over as soon as possible

As soon as the siren blares or the lights come on, drivers should pull over as quickly and safely as possible. Doing so as quickly as possible accomplishes two purposes: it shoes the officer intent to comply, and it also keeps the driver as close to the scene of the alleged infraction as possible. Staying close to the scene will give the driver an opportunity to inspect the scene and look for possible defenses against the allegation.

Make sure to use turn signals, pull as far off the shoulder as possible, and be safe. Drivers should be cautious to ensure they do not commit another traffic infraction while pulling over.

Be compliant

Once drivers are safely pulled to the side of the road, they should turn off the engine, roll down their window and place their hands in plain view on the steering wheel. This shows the officer that the driver is not a threat, is not hiding anything, and is not reaching for anything.

Drivers may be inclined to reach for their registration and driver’s license because they know the officer will ask for it. Do not give in to this inclination. Officers may think the driver is reaching for a weapon. Instead, drivers should wait for the officer to request that documentation, and then reach for it.

Be polite, but do not incriminate
Be polite to the officer, with statements like, “Yes, Officer,” “No, Officer,” or “I don’t understand, Officer.” Do not argue with the officer when they explain the alleged infraction. Drivers should remember that they do not have to admit guilt, even if they know they did commit the infraction. If drivers do not wish to admit guilt, but are also uncomfortable denying it, silence is an acceptable response.

Drivers may feel they have a defense to the infraction they’re accused of. For example, there may have been a large bush blocking the view of a stop sign, causing them to drive through an intersection without stopping. Drivers should not mount this defense with the officer, however. Instead, drivers should contest the ticket in court and bring proof of their defense to show the judge.

Do not give the officer reason to search the vehicle
During a routine traffic stop, officers cannot search the vehicle. However, it is all too easy for a driver to give an officer reason to search the vehicle. Drivers should sit straight and tall, keep their hands in plain view, and not make any sudden or suspicious movements. Do not throw anything out of any windows, or shove anything under a seat or into a compartment.

The officer can also search the vehicle if one of the occupants is arrested. If the driver is arrested, the car will be towed, and then an “inventory” search will be conducted.

Stay in the vehicle unless requested otherwise
Drivers can sometimes feel intimidated, sitting lower in a vehicle seat as an officer looms over them with a flashlight and their face hidden. It can be tempting to get out of the vehicle and stand, so that drivers feel more as though they’re equal with the officer. This is a bad idea, however.

Drivers should remain in the car until and unless the officer asks them to step out of the vehicle. If the officer does make such a request, drivers should not move suddenly or suspiciously, but they should comply immediately.

Most drivers will not have any difficulty during a routine traffic stop. Following these tips, however, will help ensure that any stop goes smoothly, quickly, and without additional trouble that will only make a minor situation into a major one.

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