Traffic stops happen for all sorts of reasons — for example, running a red light, texting while driving or speeding.
Traffic stops also are potentially dangerous situations for police. Are you a soccer mom/dad just trying to get to practice or a wanted felon?
Come ride along with our Police Department on a virtual traffic stop, and/or read the 5 things to know below.
When you see those flashing blue lights behind you, pull over to a safe location. It could be the nearest shoulder, turn lane or parking lot. Try to get your vehicle completely out of the travel lanes. Police may approach from either side, depending on the location and other safety considerations. Also, don’t be alarmed if you see another officer pull up. Police often show up to check on each other, especially at night.
Remain in your vehicle, keep your hands in view and minimize your movements. Officers may become alarmed if you or a passenger shifts or moves around a lot. Are you just looking for your license and registration? Or are you hiding/reaching for something illegal?
Police will introduce themselves, explain why you’ve been stopped and provide direction to make the interaction as smooth and brief as possible.
If you are issued a summons, you are required by law to sign it. It is not an admission of guilt and you have the right to contest the charge in court. Instructions are provided on the summons. Failure to sign could result in you being arrested and brought before a magistrate.
Police impersonators are out there. If you have doubts about vehicles pulling you over, especially unmarked cars, find a bright and/or populated place to pull over. Turn on your four-way hazard lights to acknowledge the officer (or impersonator) as you look for a safe and public location. You can also call 9-1-1 to report the stop or verify the person is actually a police officer.