How to Keep Getting Pulled Over by a Cop from Turning Ugly
You’re speeding down the highway, the tunes cranked up loud, when a cop pulls up behind you and lights you up. Unless you were driving twice the posted speed limit of 75 mph, driving a stolen car or hauling contraband – remain calm as best you can. Now is not the time to start thinking about how this is going to affect your car insurance.
There are plenty of not-so-great ways you could react – all of which could quickly escalate a normal traffic stop into something ugly. While being pulled over can be nerve-racking, the last thing you want is an altercation with a cop over a busted taillight or expired tags. Yet, things can go south in a big hurry, if you rub a cop the wrong way from the start.
Let’s be honest, nobody’s ever happy or thrilled with getting pulled over. Your first instinct might be to show attitude and ask in a confrontational tone – “What did I do?”
However, whether it’s your first ticket or you’re an old pro at signing your name at the bottom of a citation, you might want to consider a different approach and a few simple suggestions to keep your traffic stop from turning ugly unnecessarily.
- Pull over immediately
Don’t circle the block or look for the perfect place to pull over. Once you notice a police car flashing its lights behind you, steer over to the nearest curb and stop immediately. Doing otherwise could anger the cop and you want to avoid that. If he doesn’t like where you parked, he’ll bark instructions over his loud speaker for you to move to a better location. Follow his commands.
- Turn off your vehicle without him having to ask
Make it easy on yourself by turning off your vehicle and setting the emergency brake. This way, you’re showing the cop you understand the situation and your intention is to stay put. In addition, it may keep you from doing something stupid – like winding up on the 10 o’clock news.
- Turn on your dome light
Turning on the dome light at night shows a will to cooperate by letting the officer see into your car. This may also put the cop more at ease since he has a better view of what you’re doing as he approaches.
- Rest your hands on the steering wheel
Cops always prefer to see your hands in plain sight. By resting them on the steering wheel, you’re making the stop safer for both of you.
- Avoid sudden movements
Avoid making any sudden movements, including reaching for your wallet before the officer arrives at your window. This will only make the office nervous and add possible conflict to the traffic stop.
- Roll your car window about 1/4 of the way down
Rolling your window down only part of the way allows you to discuss the stop with the officer while giving you the room to pass requested documents. Furthermore, it can keep the officer from escalating the situation by claiming he smells marijuana or alcohol, which often he didn’t, only to get you out of your car and conduct a search.
Once the cop reaches your car window:
- Be polite and courteous – Show some manners and resist the urge to show attitude. Provide the officer with all the documents he requests. If the infraction is minor, the cop could just let you off with a warning. Confront him and you’re getting a ticket for sure, which won’t do your auto insurance rates any good.
- Don’t admit guilt – If you’re asked, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” – the answer is a polite, “No, sir/ma’am. I don’t.” Let the officer tell you why you were pulled over. Again, a minor infraction can be a judgment call. You could be back on the road in a few minutes minus a ticket.
- Don’t exit the vehicle without being asked to do so – This is almost guaranteed to get a “police-issued” firearm aimed at you. What comes next could get you killed. So, stay in your car unless asked to exit.
There’s no reason to turn a normal traffic stop into a dangerous confrontation. By keeping these simple tips in mind next time you’re pulled over, you’ll reduce the chance of escalating the situation.