4 Tips for Dealing with the Police After You Are Pulled Over


4 Tips for Dealing with the Police After You Are Pulled Over

Stopped by the police for speeding or reckless driving? Maybe the reason you were pulled over was running a red light or having invalid tags on your license plate? No matter the reason or circumstances, the moment you see those sirens in your rearview, there is a small jump of surprise and twinge of uncertainty.

Few encounters with traffic police are pleasant or without consequences, but your attitude and demeanor during after you are pulled over can make a major difference. Our team at Scott Russell Law has assembled four tips for dealing with the police after you are pulled over, to hopefully make your next roadside run-in go much smoother.

#1: Prepare for the Officer to Approach Your Vehicle

This piece of advice could seem very obvious. When you are pulled over in New York the first thing most police officers do is approach your vehicle, typically coming to the driver’s side door, and ask for your license and registration. We’ll discuss this document check and confirmation later, but making this exchange transactional and straightforward sets the tone after you’ve been pulled over.

To start, you should turn off your engine. Law enforcement will approach a running car hesitantly and with suspicions, you want or could flee the scene. Put your car in park, kill the engine, and leave your seatbelt on. Next, roll down the driver’s side window. An officer can state the reason for pulling you over and ask any questions easier through an open window than the glass. If you don’t take both of these actions the officer will immediately ask you to do so.

These considerate actions don’t appeal to every driver in New York. However, keep in mind you have little to lose and a lot to gain at the start of your interaction with a New York police officer.

#2: Keep Your Hands on the Steering Wheel

Whether you are guilty of a New York traffic violation or entirely innocent of a suspected DWI, you want to appear as non-threatening to a police officer as possible. You can set a police officer at ease and ensure a smoother interaction by keeping your hands in plain sight.

This includes in the moments between being pulled over and the police officer approaching your car. There is an inclination to reach for your registration from the glove compartment or search around in your purse for a driver’s license, but you are better off waiting. When a New York police officer asks for these documents, explain where they are and the actions you need to take to find them. Verbalize that you are going to reach into your glove compartment for your registration or need your purse from the backseat.

#3: Avoid Any Sudden or Aggressive Movements

A New York traffic stop normally proceeds smoothly. Law enforcement asks for your identification, it is provided. You ask why you are pulled over, the officer explains the reason and potential New York moving violation, such as running a red light or DWI. Then, the officer decides if your actions warrant a warning, citation, ticket, or arrest.

When does being pulled over go wrong in New York and other states? Today, there are a variety of reasons why a police encounter becomes confrontational. The demeanor or personality of the police officer can dictate the conversation and events or your actions could escalate the situation. One thing you want to avoid is making a sudden movement, particularly one that is aggressive.

Do not attempt to touch the police officer, reach into your backseat, or start to move the car. Even if you are pulled over without any cause or the line of questioning from the officer seems invasive and unnecessary, you should continue to remain calm and still in your vehicle. If you want to refuse to answer an officer’s questions, whether related to a New York DWI or otherwise, do so calmly and clearly. 

#4: Put Your Cell Phone to the Side

Do not use your cell phone while pulled over. First, there are rules against texting and driving throughout the state. While you are pulled over and at a stop, you don’t want to give an officer reason to suggest you are still operating a vehicle. This is even more important if you have left your vehicle running.

Second, the use of your cell phone during a police encounter is off-putting. There isn’t anything suspicious about you texting your friend Jenny to say you are running late, but a police officer doesn’t know that. Leave your messages and emails until you reach your destination safely.

Talk to a New York Lawyer About Your Traffic Violation

In most instances, if you are pulled over, you will receive a ticket – even when you are polite and apologetic. However, you have the right and opportunity to fight a New York traffic violation and Scott Russell Law can help. Contact our team by calling (845) 741-3331.

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