5 Must-Know Tips for Best Handling a Traffic Stop

September 04, 2017
5 Must-Know

Stories of altercations between police and detained citizens captured on police dashboard or body cameras have become all too commonplace in recent years. In fact, The Guardian now maintains an ongoing tally of the number of people killed by police in the U.S. – a number that has reached 948 on the date of this article’s writing.Just last week, a car chase in Mesquite, TX escalated into an altercation in which police shot an armed man who refused to pull over for a traffic stop. While many factors drive the escalation of these police interactions, a common theme behind many of them is poor communication.Keep Calm So You Can Carry OnBeing pulled over by the police can be a nerve-racking experience,” says Jeff Bell, CEO of LegalShield. “It is clear is the best approach in a situation where you are stopped by a police officer is to keep calm and be courteous.”Understanding traffic laws vary by state and province, here are five tips to help you properly handle a traffic stop.1. Pull safely off the road, turn your interior light on at night, keep your hands on the steering wheel, be polite and cooperative with the police officer, and address the officer as "sir" or "ma'am.” A strong example of this can be seen in the recent tragedy involving Sandra Bland, who committed suicide after being arrested for her behavior during a routine traffic stop. The Washington Post cites several police officers and others commenting on this altercation, which many believe could have been avoided simply by a more civil discourse between Bland and the officer.2. Comply with the officer's requests for your name, driver's license, registration, and insurance information However, as ACLU lawyer Jason Williamson writes for Time, “you’re not required to give a statement beyond that. You can simply say, ‘I choose not to answer that question’.”3. Do not exit the vehicle unless you are directed to do so by the officer. Referencing the story about Ms. Bland, Former NYPD detective Harry Houck recently told CNN that it is best for people to "do whatever (a police officer) says and then deal with it later."4. Do not consent to a search of your car. If the officer searches despite your objection, remember to stay calm, tell the officer that you object to the search, but do not physically resist the search.5. Call your attorney as you are able to do so.To learn more about how a LegalShield membership can help you to understand the laws in your state, click here