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What to do during a traffic stop

Getting pulled over by a police officer is a stressful experience. A traffic stop may make you feel anxious, intimidated and agitated even if you are not guilty of any crime. Police are likely to stop you and question you at some point, so it is vital to know what you should do in this type of situation.

If you make mistakes or are not aware of your rights, you may end up in legal trouble. Here are some suggestions for what to do when a cop pulls you over. 

Pull over safely but quickly

As soon as you see a police vehicle that wants you to stop, pull over in a safe place as soon as you can. Put your turn signal on and pull over to the right shoulder if possible. The goal is to communicate your intentions to pull over.  

Be polite and calm

When you stop, turn off your motor, lower your window, and then put both hands on the wheel. Avoid reaching for documents until the officer asks you for your license and registration. If the officer sees you reach for the glove compartment or your pocket, he or she may assume you are stashing an item you want to hide or reaching for something like a weapon. 

You can refuse a search in a respectful manner

Sometimes, you may need to assert your rights during a traffic stop. A police officer does not have the right to search your vehicle unless he or she has probable cause or a search warrant. Calmly state that you do not consent to a search. However, remember that a police officer may search your car if he or she has a reason to believe you are dangerous or involved in a criminal act. Additionally, if the officer sees something suspicious or illegal in your vehicle, such as open containers of alcohol or drug paraphernalia, he or she may conduct a search and seizure.

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