It will happen at least once in your life. You’re on your way to or from work or the grocery store. Or there’s a family emergency. It doesn’t matter whether it’s for speeding, real-life Grand Theft Auto, or a taillight out. You will be pulled over. So you see the red and blue lights in your mirror, pull over to the shoulder, and bring your car to a stop. Then what?
Well, there’s no magic formula to get you off the hook. But there is a lot that can go wrong, regardless of whether you’re guilty of anything. We’ll tell you how to navigate the murky waters of a traffic stop while remaining entirely within your rights. Remember, it might be stressful, but all parties involved want a traffic stop to go quickly and smoothly. Here are your rights when you’re pulled over, as well as a few pointers on how to make these interactions as painless as possible.
1. Be ready
We might as well start from the beginning. As soon as you see the police cruiser in your mirror, put your turn signal on and quickly and safely come to a stop on the shoulder. Try to pull as far off the road as possible, leaving plenty of safe space for the officer to walk. Once your car is in park, roll down your window. Then, turn off your radio, and turn on your car’s dome light if it’s dark out. If you can signal to the officer that you’re eager to cooperate before they even get out of the car, it might work in your favor if they’re feeling particularly charitable.
Next: Know what you’re stopped for.