If the police have stopped you, it is because they believe they have a reason to do so.

Follow these steps during a traffic stop to give yourself the best chance of not receiving a citation, or the optimal outcome in the event that you do.

Pulling Over

Pull your car over promptly and safely. Use your signals and pull as far to the right shoulder as possible.

Stay in Your Vehicle

Roll down your window, turn off the engine, and place your hands on the steering wheel in full view of the officer. Remain calm, don’t make sudden, suspicious movements, or reach for anything. You do not want the officer to think you are stashing items or reaching for a weapon. Stay in your vehicle and wait for the officer to approach. If the officer asks to see your driver’s license, vehicle registration, or proof of insurance, inform the officer that you are reaching for those items where they are in the vehicle. If you suspect that the officer is not really a police officer, ask to see the officer’s photo identification and badge. You can also request to follow the officer to a police station or have the officer call their supervisor to the scene.

Exit Your Vehicle Only If the Police Officer Requests that You Do So

Officers are trained to expect the worst, so don’t suddenly exit the vehicle. If an officer requests that you exit your vehicle, do so calmly and carefully, with no sudden movements.

Talking to the Police Officer

Don’t interrupt or argue with the officer. Let the officer do most of the talking. Answer the officer’s questions with simple “yes” or “no” responses. Don’t talk your way into jail by incriminating yourself. Be calm and polite, but don’t give the officer information that can be used against you.

Don’t Give the Officer an Excuse to Search Your Vehicle

An officer can search your vehicle if they believe there is probable cause. Refrain from any suspicious movements such as hunching down in your seat, or throwing items out a window. If an officer sees items such as open alcohol or drug paraphernalia in plain sight, they can search your vehicle. If an officer believes you or any of your passengers are armed, dangerous, or involved in criminal activity, the officer can frisk you and your passengers.

If You Receive a Citation

If you receive a citation, you are required to sign it. This is not an admission of guilt on your part. If you believe the citation is unwarranted, present your appeal in court, but do not argue with the officer. If you believe that you were verbally or physically abused by the police officer, file a written complaint at the local police department and be sure to obtain a copy for your records.