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What Do I Do if a Police Officer Pulls me Over?

Before I get into how you should act if you get pulled over, let’s first take a look at a traffic stop from the officer’s perspective. A traffic stop, though seemingly routine, can be one of the most dangerous encounters an officer can have. First and foremost, tension is heightened with the threat of you behind the wheel with the ability to drive off at any moment and put the officer’s safety in danger. Second, there can be numerous other cars speeding by on the road causing danger in the officer’s blind spot. When an officer approaches you, he or she will be lucky if they can see anything below your shoulder. This creates an inherent risk for the officer that you may be in possession of a firearm or another weapon. In order to give a simple speeding ticket, an officer faces all of these dangers before they even make contact with you.

Pull over immediately and pull over far enough to create a safe space for the officer to approach your vehicle

If you see the blue lights behind you, do not panic. Immediately turn on your blinker to show the officer that you see him or her, and slow down safely. The officer will immediately understand that you see them and are acknowledging the traffic stop. If at all possible, pull your car into a parking lot, or far enough away from the shoulder of the road to give the officer a safe space to walk and approach your driver’s side.

Put your hands on the steering wheel and put the vehicle in park

Ease the officer’s suspicion, put your car in park so the officer can see that your car is stopped and that your feet are off the pedals. This will alleviate the officer’s suspicion that you intend to pull away as he or she approaches your vehicle. Place your hands on the steering wheel so the officer can see that you are not a threat to pull any type of weapon. Only remove your hands after the officer asks for your driver’s license and registration.

Be polite and courteous

No one likes to be pulled over. There is never a convenient time to get pulled over. No matter what you are rushing to, short of a life-threatening situation, it can wait. The officer is doing his or her job, and while they may not be legally correct in citing you, there will be time to fight that later. No matter how serious a criminal charge may be, an officer will remember that you were polite, courteous, and cooperative later on. No one likes to be treated in a disrespectful manner when they are at work, and an officer is no different. Be kind, be polite, and do as the officer tells you.

If you are lawfully carrying a firearm, notify the officer and provide proof of your concealed weapon permit

If you are someone who carries a firearm in your vehicle pursuant to Florida’s concealed weapons permit, notify the officer that you are in possession of a weapon, show the officer your permit, and disclose the location of your weapon.

The time to fight is later and the place to fight is in the courtroom

Do not turn a simple traffic citation into a trip to the county jail. Due process is a valuable right that all of us enjoy. Every traffic citation is challengeable and the time to challenge your citation is in front of a judge. It is very unlikely that you will convince the officer to refrain from giving you a citation, whether you are in the right, or in the wrong. If you feel that your ticket should be challenged, review the back of the ticket and set your ticket for a traffic ticket hearing, or immediately call an attorney. In addition, fighting with the officer, whether verbally or physically, will certainly create more serious issues for you. You can turn a simple civil citation into a criminal charge. Refusal to sign a citation, refusal to cooperate with an officer, running from an officer, or physically engaging an officer, will only create problems for you. Florida courts have held that the place to fight is in a courtroom, not at the time you are arrested or pulled over.

In my time as a criminal defense lawyer in DeLand, Florida, I have seen cases where an officer wrongfully pulled over a client, and we fight aggressively to defend our client’s rights. We have had great success in defending our clients, but it goes without saying that any client who fights with an officer faces higher consequences, increased legal fees, and a much bigger headache.

If you feel that you have been illegally pulled over by an officer, contact Thompson Law, any time, day or night. We are available for telephone calls 24 hours. We will assess your case for free, meet with you to offer a free consultation, and determine whether we can defend you. Call Thompson Law today at (386) 463-4LAW (4529) or toll free at (877) 934-4LAW (4529) to set a free consultation with Attorney Matt Thompson.

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