Being pulled over is a nerve-wracking situation for everyone involved and you may feel unclear on best practices to ensure a smooth interaction. It is important to know your rights if you do get pulled over and attorney Vincent Tofani, Director of Parker Scheer’s Criminal Defense Practice recommends the following in the event that you are pulled over:
- Be polite and calm at all times: This is without a doubt a stressful situation to be in, but by doing your best to comply in a calm and respectful manner, this creates an environment in which both you and the officer can feel safe.
- Make no sudden movements – in fact, resist the urge to immediately reach for your papers in the glove compartment: This tip may come as a surprise to you because drivers are commonly taught to prepare their license and registration when pulled over. Though it is very common to have your registration in the glove compartment, it is best to place both hands on the wheel and refrain from moving or rifling through your car when being pulled over. By remaining calm and still, the officer will feel more comfortable approaching the vehicle and not be concerned about any potentially erratic movement.
- Turn on the interior light: This is just another way to, especially at night, clearly show who or what is in your vehicle and set you up for an appropriate encounter with the officer.
- Open all windows, if possible: You will need to open at least one window to communicate with the officer, but it is preferable to open as many as possible so that the officer has a clear visual of the interior of the vehicle, particularly if the rear windows are tinted.
- Sit still with your hands on the wheel, and await the officer to address the situation: This position is the best way to communicate safe body language as the officer approaches. Once the officer approaches, it is best to communicate clearly when and if you will be moving to obtain the documentation you need.
Being pulled is a stressful situation, but by following these safety tips, you can put the officer involved at ease and minimize risk for everyone involved.
In Massachusetts, the officer must have reasonable cause, or “reasonable suspicion” to pull you over.
If you or a loved one are pulled over without reasonable suspicion or if you feel that your rights are violated or that the officer’s actions are unlawful in any way, it is essential to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.