Posted on February 2, 2017.
By David Peel
(If at night, turn on your dome light) then roll down the windows and put your hands on the steering wheel while waiting for instructions.
This may seem artificially docile but it assures the police officer that you are no threat to him or her. With most SUVs having tinted windows in the back, rolling down those windows is confirmation that no one is waiting to ambush him or her. And while none of us law-abiding citizens would mean any harm towards a police officer, there are people who do. In addition, be mindful that sometimes you might be pulled over because your description matches someone who just fled a scene of violent crime. And he or she doesn’t know for sure whether or not the person is in your car having stolen it or whether it’s you.
If you are pulled over on a highway, be mindful that the police officer may approach you from the passenger side to help lessen the chance of a traffic strike. It is one of the leading causes of death of law-enforcement agencies.
If you have any firearms in your vehicle, you’re under no obligation to reveal that unless you are asked. But if you are asked to, it is prudent to simply disclose the location of the firearm and then ask the police officer how he’d like to handle things.
Years ago, it was not uncommon to exit the vehicle and approach the police officer. Now, that is generally seen as an active threat. However, if you were being stopped in suspicion of a felony, a felony stop will ask you to exit the vehicle. The general procedure is that the lights will be trying to warn you and shine lights in your mirrors to blind you. Police officers will exit their vehicle and hide behind their doors with guns drawn. And you will be asked to put your hands outside the window and then exit the vehicle.
The next step in this terrifying process would be usually interlocking your hands behind your head and walking backwards towards a police officer or, going down on your knees or even believe it or not, spread eagle on the ground.
I know this may seem like overkill, however the police officers who do a felony stop have a reason to believe that they are in danger from an armed violent suspect or they wouldn’t be going to this much trouble.
And whether you were pulled over for a minor traffic infraction, or because of suspicion of something much worse, always be respectful to the police. Remember that the first job of that police officer is to make sure that you are not a threat to him or anyone else. That means that he or she must take control of the situation and make sure that you are harmless. That must happen before there’s some debate about what you did or didn’t do. So the quicker you get to the point where the officer feels no threat from you, the better it is for everyone involved.
So that means hands always visible, no quick movements, seek permission to do anything you’re seeking to do (like get registration or insurance out of a glove box). My regular readers know that it’s a good idea to put your insurance card on your driver side visor mirror so that anyone driving your car could easily produce proof of insurance without going through all kinds of boxes in the car.
Finally, I would suggest that it is difficult to win an argument with the police. You can make your point about why you believe a ticket should or should not be given, but I do not believe that there is ever a reason to be disrespectful. If he is wrong that is why we have judges.
Please feel free to share this with drivers that you care about to help keep them safe the next time they happen to be pulled over.
Peel seeks justice for those injured in motorcycle, truck and car accidents, disability and medical malpractice. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.