What to do when pulled over for a traffic violation:
Most people, on occasion, commit some sort of traffic violation. Most people have encountered or will encounter a police-initiated vehicle stop. Whether you have been speeding or your taillight is out, you should know what to do when you are stopped by a police officer. Where do you place your hands? What if there is not a safe place to pull over? Should you turn on your interior lights? These are questions you should know the answer to in the event that you are pulled over for a traffic violation in North Carolina. The newest version of the state driver license handbook provides clarification on what to do when you are pulled over by a police officer. This blog explores some of those common scenarios and what the 2018 manual says you should do if you find yourself in such a situation.
I’ve been pulled over for a traffic violation. Should I get the vehicle’s registration out of the glove box and have it ready to go?
- You should not do that. Don’t reach for the glove box. Keep both hands on the steering wheel and wait for the officer to direct you to retrieve your registration. You should keep both hands clearly visible at all times.
I’ve been pulled over. My hands are on the steering wheel. Where should my passengers’ hands be?
- Passengers should keep their hands visible. Front-seat passengers can place their hands in their lap. Back-seat passengers should put their hands on the seat in front of them.
I have pulled my vehicle over to the right side of the road. What is the appropriate protocol to follow at this point?
- Place your vehicle in park. Roll down the window. Turn off the engine. Turn off the radio. DO NOT remove your seatbelt.
It’s dark, should I turn my interior lights on, or leave them off?
- If it is nighttime, the officer may direct a spotlight at your vehicle once stopped. To assist with visibility, turn on your interior lights as soon as you stop to help the officer see inside your vehicle.”
When pulled over for a traffic violation, should I exit my vehicle at any point?
- Neither the driver nor the passengers should exit the vehicle at any point, unless a police officer asks them to.
I have a firearm or other weapon in my vehicle. What should I do?
- DO NOT attempt to reach for the weapon. When the officer approaches, inform him that you have a weapon in the vehicle. Describe the weapon and its location. If you have a concealed handgun permit, it is extremely important that you tell the police officer this.
A police officer has activated his blue lights behind me. I know he’s trying to pull me over, but I don’t’ have a safe place to pull over. What do I do?
- Turn on your hazard lights. Slow down (by about ten mph). Then be on the lookout for the first safe place to pull over on the right side of the road. Continue to obey all traffic laws until you reach a safe area.
I am being pulled over by an unmarked car. I have a legitimate concern that it is not an actual law enforcement officer pulling me over. I’m concerned about my safety. What should I do?
- In this scenario, you may call 911 and report your name and location in order to verify the legitimacy of the stop.
If you have been pulled over for a traffic violation, be safe. If you are issued a citation, you should speak to a traffic lawyer about your options. The traffic lawyers at Gilles Law can help.