Have you been pulled over by a police officer? Not sure what to do? Here are some guidelines that will minimize anxiety and maximize communication during a traffic stop.
- Pull over as far off the road as safely possible
- Turn on your hazard lights.
- Relax–remain calm and address the officer in a polite manner
- Turn on your vehicle’s map/dome light
- Remain inside your vehicle when you are being pulled over
- Never exit your car unless the officer asks you to do so.
- Keep your hands in plain view
- Let the officer ask you for your driver’s license and registration
- Don’t buckle or unbuckle your seat belt. It hides your hands from view and may make an officer think you are reaching for something illegal or dangerous
Why would a police officer stop your vehicle?
- Running a red light
- Failure to yield for a pedestrian
- Passing a school bus with its red lights flashing
- Weaving, swerving, or failing to drive in marked lanes
- Defective equipment (one headlight, no brake lights, broken windshield, etc)
- Expired license plates
- Expired inspection sticker
COURTESY, SAFETY, OR CONCERN
- An obvious mechanical malfunction, open trunk, item accidentally on your roof, leaking fluids/gasoline.
Frequently asked questions
Q: I was only stopped for a minor offense, why did two or three other Police Officers show up or drive by?
A: Officers in the vicinity of a traffic stop routinely stop and check on a fellow officer conducting a motor vehicle stop. It’s for officer safety.
Q: Why did the officer “sneak up” along side of my car?
A: Police Officers are trained to minimize their exposure to traffic to keep from getting hit by passing vehicles. Also, Officers don’t know who you are. The Officer is just being cautious and trying to assess the stop. Once the Officer feels that there is little danger, he/she will show himself/herself.
Q: Why do officers stay in their car so long? What are they doing?
A: The Officer is “running” or verifying the information you provided him/her with. National and Statewide computer checks are being processed and that takes a couple of minutes.
Q: The Police Officer wrote me a ticket and I feel that I didn’t deserve it. What should I do?
A: If you don’t agree with a ticket that an Officer wrote you, there is an appeals procedure you can follow. Once an officer issues a ticket, he or she cannot take it back. Only a clerk magistrate or judge can do that.
Police Officers are trained to ask for your ID first and provide an explanation for the stop second. Once you provide the officer with your proper paperwork, he/she will give you the reason for the stop. Great Barrington Police officers wear a name tag on their uniform, so you have the advantage of knowing whom you are dealing with.
(Portions of this page were sourced from the Abington Police Department)