They have to deal with all sorts of people every day. Some may be dangerous and shady characters while most of them would be ordinary citizens going about their businesses. They will have to first make sure that they do not put themselves in a compromising position. Secondly, they would mostly try to make sure you are safe and not alarmed unnecessarily. They would go through certain level of training but remember that they are human beings as well with feelings of worry, anxiety and fearfulness.
Obviously, you have rights in every circumstance when you are dealing with law enforcement and they should be used smartly without causing any aggravations that will end up in a police station or getting arrested. When you know your rights and what to say you can navigate the problems safely and maybe avoid a ticket. Here is what you should do when you are pulled over;
- Come to a safe standstill: When you see the police lights flashing behind you, slow down and pull over to as far right as you can. Turn the engine off and keep hands on the steering wheel. Passengers as well should sit tight rather than fidgeting around. Your positioning and actions should show that you are not a threat and have nothing to hide.
- Keep the window halfway down: This should be enough for you and the officer to have a respectful conversation. Without saying anything this action would prevent him or her to come any closer than he should.
- Get your driving license, vehicle registration and insurance documents ready: These are the documents officers would want to see. Make them ready in an easily reachable area but do not retrieve them unless you are asked to show.
- Keep the answers simple and safe: Don’t accept any law braking, speeding or crossing a red light. Give simple answers like no or yes. When an officer asks if you were aware of speeding or something like that you can answer as “no officer”. You can refuse to admit a wrongdoing. Your Fifth Amendment rights allow you not to give answers that will be used against you.
- Don’t take anything personally: Police may ask suggestive questions. Answer them simply as above. Think of questions some government declaration forms ask like “are you pregnant” when clearly you are a man. Do not take any offence from these questions. Simple “no officer” would be enough.
- Exit the vehicle only when asked: By law you are required to get out of the automobile if an officer asks you. When you leave the vehicle close the door and lock it up. If you are asked why you did that just say that this is what you normally do when you get out of it. Leaving the door open may be interpreted as invitation to have a look inside the vehicle.
- Don’t consent to a search: Without a probable cause they need permission. If you are asked simply state the fact that you do not consent to a search. This is your right and you do not have to explain why you are not agreeing to it. They may suggest that you have something to hide if you are not allowing them to look around. Just state that you have been asked and the answer is no as you believe there is no reason for it. If they still go ahead and carry out a search it can be argued in the court that it was illegally carried out without a permission or probable cause.
- Ask if you are free to go: Stay cool if you are being treated badly or accused of something. They either have to arrest you or let you go. Don’t allow them intimidate you into accepting something, regardless of it being true or groundless accusations. You don’t have to admit anything and they have to prove any allegation. Just remember to ask if you are free to go if it is not clearly stated before turning your back. This will leave no grounds for misinterpretations as you are fleeing the scene.
There are quite a few handy tips here. Who would think that leaving a car door open when you are stopped and asked to step out is considered as permission for snooping around. Cars are extension of homes for many motorists. As you wouldn’t want anyone walk into your living room uninvited you would not want someone checking the contents of the car uninvited.