What to Do If You Are Pulled Over by Police

Sooner or later, most of us are going to be pulled over by the police. How you react will set the tone for your interaction with law enforcement. If you act correctly, you can protect yourself from undesirable outcomes. Here are some tips:

When you see flashing lights behind you. As soon as you see the flashing lights or hear the siren, you need to pull over to the side of the road as quickly and safely as possible. Do not pull over so quickly that you put others or the officer in danger. If you are on a busy road with a narrow shoulder, look for a side street or parking lot to pull into. If you are pulling onto the shoulder of a road, pull over to the right as far as possible so the officer does not have to worry about getting hit by oncoming traffic when they approach your car.

After you stop. After you have pulled over safely, take the following steps:

  • Stay in your car unless you are told to get out.
  • Roll down your window all the way.
  • Shut off your car and, if it is dark, turn on an interior light.
  • Put both hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them.
  • Do not rummage around for your driver’s license or registration until asked for them — the officer may think you are getting a weapon.
  • Let the officer speak first. Do not volunteer information not asked for, and keep any answers to questions simple yes or no answers if possible. Silence is not an admission of guilt and cannot be used against you in court.

If the police car is unmarked or you have another reason to be concerned that the person stopping you is not a police officer, ask to see the officer’s identification. If you are still unsure, ask if you can follow the officer to the closest police station.

Avoid being searched. Police officers are not allowed to search your vehicle unless they have a reason to suspect there is danger to themselves or others, or that there is evidence of a crime you are trying to hide or destroy. This is why it is important not to make any physical moves while in your vehicle that could be construed as an attempt to either grab a weapon or hide something. If an officer suspects you or a passenger has a weapon, they can frisk you on the spot. If there are any illegal objects in your vehicle that are in plain view, the officer can seize those and arrest you. If you or anyone in your vehicle is placed under arrest, your vehicle can them be thoroughly searched by law enforcement.

The Cogdell Law Firm is a full service criminal litigation and appellate law firm. We provide client-focused representation at all stages of the process, whether our clients are seeking to avoid charges, have been charged, or are seeking reversal of a conviction on appeal. When results matter most, contact Dan Cogdell at (713) 426-2244 or dan@cogdell-law.com.