I've Been Stopped - What Do I Do Now?
Hard as you may try, sometimes you just cannot avoid those flashing blue lights. The only thing you can
do now is to remain calm, observant and respectful to the officer walking up to your car. This is when
you first begin to prepare your defense.
First and above all, pull your car over safely in an area that is not blocking traffic. Don't worry, the officer
will stay behind you! If pulling off on to the shoulder of the road, make sure the officer can safely get out
of his car behind you.
Do absolutely nothing to bring additional attention to yourself. The next time you see this officer
will be in a court of law, and you want him/her to have a hard time recalling you.
After you have stopped your car, turn off the engine and roll down the drivers window. You should
remain in your seat belt, and place your hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them. If
you were not wearing your seat belt, don't bother trying to put it on now. Remember, he/she does not
know you and must take caution when approaching your vehicle. If it is between dusk and dawn, turn on
your dome light so he/she can quickly observe you and others in your car.
Even though you may be quite anxious at this time, try to remain as calm as possible. Take a deep breath.
Keep your temper in check.
When the officer approaches your door, be respectful and ask the officer what you have been stopped
for. At this time, he should tell you exactly; if you were speeding, running a red light, improper lane
change, etc. If he stopped you for speeding, he most likely will ask you if you knew how fast you were
going when he turned on his blue lights. Your choices here might be to tell him, "No officer, I don't recall", or "I thought it was the speed limit", or "The speed
limit, I'm sure. I checked my speedometer right about the time you stopped me. You don't want to say
something faster than he clocked you for. You might as well write your own ticket! Remember, you have
the right to remain silent, but he most likely won't tell you that. Don't offer more than you need to.
When he asks you for your license, insurance and car registration, tell him where
they are located before you reach for them. Should you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, let him know and tell him
where it is. Should it be in the glove box with the registration, don't open it until you have explained the
situation to the officer. Then proceed with his full attention. Close the glove box back so your
weapon is not easily accessible. You may have to show your permit to ease his mind. Do not hesitate to do so.
Sometimes an officer may request that you allow to have your vehicle searched. Does he have a
legitimate excuse? Probably not. You however, have the right to ask him why he would want to search
your vehicle. Should you consent to a vehicle search without a search warrant, even though you have
nothing to hide? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
If the officer suspects alcohol or drugs, he can search your car without your consent. He can also inspect
your car for obvious violations. Should you disagree with him, you will have to take it up in court.
Once the officer has told you why you were stopped, you should observe his demeanor and actions to see
where this is leading. If he seems a little bothered by the stop, he probably feels he doesn't have sufficient
evidence to back up the stop. He may only issue a warning. If he has a superior attitude, he most likely
will issue a ticket. If he has already started writing the citation, don't bother defending
yourself at this time. It's too late. You will get your day in court. If anyone is in the
car with you, make sure they remain completely quite.
While he is busy preparing your ticket, you should be busy preparing your trial.
Make note on the following if possible. Mental notes will work until you can get to
pen and paper should you find yourself without any:
Weather conditions. Note temperature, if raining, windy, cloudy or sunny.
Note what you are wearing. Sounds silly, but you may want to ask
him in court
what color shirt you were wearing.
Write down details about the officer's car. The unit number, make,
color etc. Was
Note the location that he first started following you or turned on his blue lights and
compare to where you actually stopped.
Note who was with you in the car at the time of the stop. Don't allow them to
speak during the time the officer is speaking with you. They should speak only
when asked to do so by you or the officer.
What is the traffic flow like at the time of the stop? Was traffic heavy during this
time? Was their another car next to your car going the same speed?
Are there any notable characteristics/details about your car? If so, write down and
detail (dents, paint jobs, writing, etc.). You may want to question the officer later
regarding these details.
Write down everything possible that you and the officer say. Did he tell you how he
determined your speed? Was another officer involved? If so, what is his/her
Did he use a radar gun? Where was he at when he targeted you? In his car,
standing outside, or driving close by?
Once the officer has completed the ticket, he should ask you to look it over for errors and then sign it. He
should make you aware that by signing it, you are not accepting fault, but are merely acknowledging
receipt of the ticket. You have the right to request that your court appearance be moved to your county
seat, if possible. If he is unable or unwilling to do so, ask him to please note it on the
ticket before signing. If he refuses to note it on the ticket, don't make a scene.
Sign the ticket and add this to your notes.
Once you have signed the ticket, you may request to see the read out on the radar unit he has used. In
some circumstances, you may be able to do so, safety providing. Don't ask specific questions
the technical side of a radar gun. Make only mental notes of what you saw. Don't do anything to bring
attention to yourself.
Once the officer has issued the ticket, he may remain in his vehicle for several minutes completing his
report. You can do the same, but if you decide to pull away before him, be sure to do so in a safe