Printable Copy of Procedures
Proper & Safe
Procedure When You Get Stopped by Law Enforcement
E-Z Way is including training for each of their
Segment 1 students on the proper and safe procedure for
citizens who are stopped by law enforcement. Getting
pulled over by the police is never a pleasant
experience, but there are a few things which can be
practiced to make it a safer and less stressful event
for both the person being stopped and the police
officer. As a public service, we are including this
information below for use by the general public. This
outline is for informational purposes only and not for
the purpose of providing legal advice. You should
contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any
particular issue or problem.
Yourself in the Officerís Shoes
thing that citizens need to know about traffic stops is
how extremely dangerous they are for officers. Traffic
stops are one of the most dangerous and unpredictable
aspects of law enforcement - second only to domestic
disputes. Statistics back up this claim. According to
the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund,
traffic stops are one of the leading causes of police
deaths. What makes traffic stops so hazardous?
thereís the danger that the pulled-over motorist poses
to the officer. Sudden and violent attacks are common.
Dozens of officers are killed each year by gun fire
during traffic stops. The second threat police officers
face while making stops is traffic. Officers getting hit
by passing vehicles is, sadly, too common.
the dangers that traffic stops pose to officers should
guide your actions whenever you see those flashing
lights behind you. The advice that follows boils down to
two key points:
- Pull over to a safe area.
- Always cooperate and donít do or
say anything that will make the officer think youíre a
to Do When You Get Pulled Over by the Police
(details of each item further below)
- Acknowledge the officer by turning on flashers.
- Pull over to a safe area.
- Identifying an unmarked police vehicle and/or the driver as law enforcement.
- Stay in the vehicle.
- Turn off engine, roll down window, and turn on your dome lights.
- Stay calm.
- Stay still and keep your hands on the steering wheel. Again - Stay in your vehicle.
- Greeting the officer.
- If you plan on fighting your ticket, keep answers short and donít directly admit wrongdoing.
- Comply with the officerís request to see a driverís license and proof of insurance.
- Move deliberately.
- If you or a passenger are carrying a gun, let the officer know immediately.
- Return hands to the steering wheel.
- Always be civil.
- You donít have to consent to a search.
- Donít argue.
- Be cooperative.
- Sign the citation.
- Do not resist arrest.
- After the traffic stop, be safe when merging back into traffic.
- A driver is to be treated with dignity and respect by law enforcement officers.
- All traffic stops are documented.
Acknowledge the officer by turning on
flashers. To let the officer know that youíve
seen his lights and that you plan on pulling over, turn
on your emergency flashers. It is recommended that you
do this, especially if you think youíll need to drive a
short distance before you can find a safe place to pull
over. Stop at the closest safe location available. If
you keep driving, it might heighten the officerís
suspicion that criminal activity is afoot and also
instantly make the office feel that the traffic stop
could be dangerous. Keep in mind that the officerís
police car has all kinds of lights and, to increase
safety for everyone, the officer is trained to activate
as many lights as possible to light up the car that they
are pulling over and the area around the car.
Pull over to a safe area. Typically,
you want to pull over to the right side of the road.
When looking for a spot to pull over to, think "safety
first" for both you and the officer. Look for an area
with a wide shoulder so passing traffic isnít a hazard.
If itís nighttime, look for place thatís well lighted if
possible. That will help put the officer at ease.
Parking lots and well-lit side streets are other safe
places to pull over to.
Do not slam on the brakes or stop in the lane
of traffic. Drivers should not stop their
vehicle on bridges, curves, next to guardrails, concrete
walls, medians, or any place where it would be difficult
for other vehicles to pass. A vehicle should not be
stopped too close to the solid white line, as the office
or vehicle may get struck by oncoming traffic.
If you need to travel a short distance to pull over,
do so at a slower pace than you normally drive. You
donít want the officer to think youíre trying to make a
getaway. Also, if you need to cross multiple lanes to
pull over to the right-hand side of the road, do so
Identifying an unmarked police vehicle and/or
the driver as law enforcement. You should drive
slowly and carefully below the speed limit and either
(1) pull over at a well-lit, populated location, (2)
drive carefully to the nearest police station and
attempt to attract the attention of a uniformed officer,
or (3) call 9-1-1. A driver should activate the
vehicleís hazard lights as a helpful way to communicate
intentions with the police officer. Again, only drive a
short distance to a safe area.
Stay in the vehicle. If you get out
of the car as soon as you stop, it may give the
impression to the officer that youíre going to be
aggressive or you have something to hide in the car.
Just remain buckled in your seat.
Turn off engine, roll down window, and turn
on your dome lights. As soon as you come to a
stop, turn off your engine and roll down your window. If
itís dark out, turn on your interior dome light so the
officer can see whatís going on inside the vehicle as he
approaches. Be prepared for the officer to approach from
either the driver or passenger side of the vehicle.
Stay calm. Itís common to get
nervous whenever you get pulled over. Take some deep
breaths and relax. Unless youíve done something outright
criminal (i.e. driving intoxicated, possessing illegal
drugs, etc.) thereís nothing to be nervous about. The
worst that can happen during a routine traffic stop is
that youíll have to pay a fine, and your insurance will
probably go up.
Stay still and keep your hands on the
steering wheel. Keep your hands resting on the
wheel and remain still as the officer approaches your
vehicle. You donít want to give him or her any reason to
believe youíre a threat. Keep hands on the steering
wheel until the traffic stop is complete.
Again - Stay in your vehicle. Do not
try to exit the vehicle unless asked to do so. Getting
out of the vehicle can be perceived as aggressive
behavior and a threat to the police officerís safety.
Greeting the officer. When the
officer approaches the window of the vehicle you are
driving, you should say "Good morning, good afternoon,
or good evening, Officer. My name is (state your name)
and the car is registered to my parents (state your
parentsí names). I am very sorry if I did anything
wrong." That way, the officer would immediately know
with whom they are speaking and what the relationship is
between the driver and the registered owner. The whole
process will probably go a lot smoother if you share
this information with the officer as soon as the officer
approaches the vehicle.
If you plan on fighting your ticket, keep
answers short and donít directly admit wrongdoing.
Everything you say to an officer is admissible in court,
so if you plan on fighting your ticket, it is suggested
not saying anything that indicates you are guilty.
Officers will typically ask questions to get some sort
of admission out of you when they first walk up to your
window. For example, "Do you know why I pulled you
over?" Donít say, "I was speeding, sir." Simply say,
"No" or, "I donít know."
Wait for the officer to ask for your
documents. Donít try to expedite the process by
getting your license and registration ready while the
officer approaches your car. For all he knows you could
be reaching for a gun or trying to hide some sort of
incriminating evidence. Wait until he or she gets to the
window and asks for your documents.
Comply with the officerís request to see a
driverís license and proof of insurance.
Operators are required to have a valid driverís license,
registration, and proof of insurance in order to operate
Move deliberately. If these items
are in the glove box, under the seat, or if the proof of
insurance is stored for display on a cellphone, the
driver should inform the police officer of that fact and
then follow the officerís directions before retrieving
the information. When you do reach to get your license
and registration, do so deliberately. A quick reach into
the glove compartment for your insurance paperwork looks
the same as a quick reach into your glove compartment
for a weapon. If your wallet is in a gym bag in your
backseat, let the officer know before you turn around
and rummage for it.
Quick Tip: Try to
keep your glove compartment relatively organized, and
your documents together, so that when you pull the box
open, you donít have to frantically sort through papers
to find your registration. It is suggested that the
registration and insurance paperwork is clipped together
in an envelope labeled "REGISTRATION AND INSURANCE" and
placed in the glove box so the driver can find the
documents quickly when requested by the police officer.
The longer the officer has to wait outside the car for
you to find the documents, the more they may become
agitated and angry and would be less apt to issue a
If you or a passenger are
carrying a gun, let the officer know. Some
states have laws that require concealed carry owners to
inform officers that theyíre carrying a gun anytime they
get pulled over. These are called ďmust informĒ states.
Michigan is a ďmust informĒ state. Officers are allowed
to ask for and hold the weapon for the duration of the
stop. (**See information at the end of this article for
more detail on weapons)
Even if you get stopped in a state which is not a
"must inform" state, as a courtesy to the officer, you
might want to disclose the fact that youíre carrying.
Nothing puts an officer on red alert like seeing a
"print" of a gun through a motoristís clothes.
Return hands to the steering wheel.
After youíve handed the officer your paperwork, return
your hands to the steering wheel. It keeps them visible
to the officer.
Be civil. Be polite and respectful
in your communications with the officer. Immature
behavior such as calling the officer names, threatening
him, and being rude wonít get you anywhere. In fact, it
could make things worse. If the officer is a man, refer
to him as "officer" or "sir." If the officer happens to
be a woman, refer to her as "officer" or "maíam." You
are speaking to an officer of the law - show respect.
You donít have to consent to a search.
In order to search your vehicle without your consent, an
officer needs probable cause - maybe he smells something
in the car or sees a bottle on your seat. If he doesnít
have probable cause but wants to search your car anyway,
heíll need your consent. If you do not consent, politely
decline the search by saying, "Office, I do not consent
to a search," loud enough so it gets on the police
recorder. Thatís it.
Donít argue. The side of the road is
not the place to argue a charge. If you want to contest
the ticket, you can do so in court and in front of a
Be cooperative. If a driver is
suspected of drunk driving, refusal to submit to breath,
urine, blood or performance tests can result in the loss
of driving privileges.
Sign the citation. If the officer
decides to issue a citation, heíll ask you to sign it.
Sign it. Itís not an admission of guilt. It is just
recognition that youíve received the citation and that
you promise to either 1) pay the fine or 2) show up to
court on the designated date. A signature on a citation
in most jurisdictions is in lieu of you posting a cash
bond. Posting a cash bond generally consists of a trip
to the nearest jail or judge and may include a booking
process and fingerprinting. It is
always easier to sign
Do not resist arrest. If taken into
custody by law enforcement, DO NOT resist arrest.
After the traffic stop, be safe when merging
back into traffic. Take your time to store your
belongings before you re-enter traffic. If youíre upset,
collect yourself before driving away. When youíre ready,
turn on your signal and merge back into traffic.
A driver is to be treated with dignity and
respect by law enforcement officers. If a
driver believes that an officer has acted unfairly or
unprofessionally during a traffic stop or other
encounter, he/she should report the conduct as soon as
possible to the officerís superiors. Officers are
required to provide their full names and badge numbers
upon request. Written complaints can be filed with the
agencyís internal affairs division or civilian complaint
board, or the Chief of Police.
All traffic stops are documented.
Regardless of what action is taken, police officers are
legally required to document all traffic stops, which
includes obtaining the driverís name and address for
data collection purposes. The entire contact with the
police officer is recorded on audio and video. The video
contact is directly in front of the police officerís car
and the audio microphone is attached to the officerís
uniform. What you and the officer do and say will be
recorded and is admissible in a court of law.
NOTE: Effective date: September 27, 2018. This
information focuses on traffic stops for minor
traffic violations. It also assumes that youíre
not doing anything criminal. This lesson is for
informational purposes only and not for the
purpose of providing legal advice. You should
contact an attorney to obtain advice with
respect to any particular issue or problem.
MICHIGAN HANDGUN LAWS: Complete law is available