What to Do When You Get Pulled Over

A newly licensed teen driver often focuses on the thrill of driving.

He or she has been drilled for hours on how to drive and properly handle the vehicle. However, many never are instructed on what to do if they are stopped by the police for a license check or violation or even an accident.

Many teenagers don’t know what to do when they see blue lights flashing behind their vehicle. There are specific steps that can help. The following information was taken from the Lynchburg, VA, website in the section under Police.

“What to Do if You are Pulled Over by the Police:

  • As soon as you notice the police emergency lights, pull your vehicle over to a safe location immediately. Although you may not know the reason, you should pull over right away. You may have committed a traffic violation or there may be a problem with your vehicle of which you may not be aware.
  • Remain in your vehicle while the officer approaches you. Exiting your vehicle does not help the officer and may be perceived as a threat. The officer will ask you to exit if needed. As a courtesy, turn on your interior light at night to assist the officer in seeing inside your vehicle.
  • Keep your hands easily observable by placing them on the steering wheel. Do not reach for the glove box or under your seat. This action may cause the officer concern that you are reaching for a weapon. Keep in mind that the officer does not know you, or what your intentions might be.
  • Give your operator’s license and vehicle registration to the officer if asked to do so. Virginia law requires that this information be provided to the police officer if you are stopped. Most officers will explain their reason for the stop after they receive your information.
  • Do not become argumentative, disorderly, or abusive. If an officer has already written a summons, it cannot be voided at that time. If you believe you have been unfairly treated, do not start an argument on the side of the road. Your best alternative is to share your concerns with a police supervisor or to the court that will hear evidence in your case.
  • Please Don’t Be Offended. Most citizens already realize that law enforcement is a difficult and dangerous profession. Many police officers are killed each year and hundreds more are injured or assaulted. For this reason, police officers tend to be extremely cautious and place a great deal of emphasis on officer safety. Certain safety practices are instilled in our officers from their first day of training. Although these procedures maximize safety for the officer, they may seem impolite, offensive, or nonsocial to citizens who are not familiar with police practices.
  • Even though you might have no intentions of causing the officer harm, officers will probably maintain a protective posture until they feel that there is no risk of confrontation or injury. Remember, a police officer’s job requires him or her to have regular encounters with dangerous people. As far as police officers are concerned, there are no “routine” pedestrian or traffic stops. Every citizen contact that the officer makes has potential for danger. All police officers know this fact: all citizens should be aware of it as well.”

Chatham High students want to follow and obey the law.

Makayla Barbour said “I’d stop my vehicle on the side of the road safely.”

Ethan Dunevant said “I would pull over, also.”

Amber Duncan said, “Most people would pull over; so, yeah, I would, too.”

Often, teenagers and inexperienced drivers tend to panic and don’t know what to do once they have stopped.

Makayla said, “I would have my license ready and make sure my car smells good.”

Ethan said, ” I would sit patiently while waiting.”

Amber said, “I would have my license and registration ready to show the officer, because I know that no matter what the reason is for getting pulled over they’re going to want to see both.”

What do you do if the officer asks you to step outside the vehicle.

Makayla said,  “I’d say, “Okay,” and carefully step outside of my car so the officer wouldn’t think I was trying to reach for a weapon.”

Ethan said, ” I’d ask why they would want to search my car.”

Amber said,  ” I’d step outside of my car with respect.”