What to Do If You Get Pulled over by the Police

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Collaboration and communication are essential when dealing with law enforcement officers

WASHINGTON--Sept. 17, 2013: Most people are responsible, law-abiding drivers that follow the rules of the road. But sometimes, even the best drivers can make a mistake that could get them pulled over.

Because people aren't sure what to do if they get stopped by an officer, it could make them nervous and confused if it does happen. The following recommendations should help drivers react properly if they get pulled over:

1. Pull the car to a safe place. As soon as you hear sirens or see patrol lights flashing, carefully pull your car over to the right side of the road. Stop when you find a spot that's safe for you and other drivers. If you get stopped at night, put on your hazard lights.

2. Remain calm. Don't get nervous, and if you have passengers with you, ask them to keep quiet so you can have clear communication with the officer.

3. Stay inside your vehicle. Roll the window down and wait for further instructions from the police. If it's dark, turn on the interior lights so that the officer can see what's inside your car.

4. Keep your hands visible. Place your hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them; avoid any sudden or suspicious movement.

5. Hand over the documents you're asked to present. When the police asks for your license, registration and insurance, tell them where those items are located before reaching for them. It's a good idea to keep all your paperwork where it can be easily accessed.

6. Communicate. Police officers are obligated to explain why they've pulled you over. If you don't agree, it's OK to express it. If you get a ticket, you can defend yourself at your given court date.

If the police officer did not act professionally, ask for his or her name, badge number and license plate. You can report complaints and suspicious activity to the officer's supervisor or police headquarters.

To learn more about transportation issues, see USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov, the U.S. Government's official web portals in English and Spanish, and part of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).

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