What to do if You Get Pulled OverAugust 07, 2015
Getting pulled over can stir your emotions and invoke a fight or flight response. Unfortunately, neither of these innate responses will result in an amicable exit.
A driver’s nightmare
Washington Post columnist Lonnae O’Neal recently shared her experience getting pulled over – something she’s yet to shake. The single mother explained that a routine traffic stop went awry once she decided to exit her vehicle to make a helpful suggestion to the police officer. O’Neal recalled that it was clear that she had not one threatening bone about her, sporting a car full of kids, a baggy tee-shirt and pocket-less leggings. Yet, the officer gave her to the count of five to return to her car. It’s unknown what was at the other side of that deadline, but nonetheless, it was terrifying for O’Neal.
The policeman’s orders took a few moments to sink in, but O’Neal was able to make her way back to the car after shouting to the officer that she was a journalist. After that, his demeanor towards her seemed to have changed. But the experience in general highlights how many people feel shook up, nervous and confused when being pulled over.
Train your mind
While it’s not easy to get past the fight or flight response of a stressful situation, it can make all the difference when you’re head-to-head with a law enforcement official. Here are a few suggestions to help you navigate the heart-pounding minutes after you get pulled over.
- Remain calm: Repress your knee-jerk reactions as best as you can. Take a few deep breaths and reassure yourself that everything is going to be OK. Try not to take offense to an officer’s questions and orders so you can get through the process without additional penalties.
- Pull over safely: Once you see those flashing lights in your rearview mirror, you should pull over immediately. However, this doesn’t mean you jerk the wheel to the right and stop in a dangerous location. Technically, you have the right to pull over in a safe place. Don’t drag your feet getting there, but also don’t put yourself in harm’s way to do so.
- Offer your identification and paperwork: It’s standard procedure for a police officer to ask you for a license and registration. It’s best to have both items in a place that’s easily accessible. That way, you can offer them both up when you get pulled over.
- Know your rights: It’s always good to know what you can and cannot legally do in these situations. For example, people have the right to remain silent. You should answer the officer’s questions truthfully, but understand where to draw a line. Review search warrant laws and keep them in mind when you get pulled over. If you live in Virginia, we’ve already done the research on traffic laws in your state.
- Take notes: That being said, the last thing you should do is get into a confrontation with a police officer. If you feel as though you were pulled over wrongfully, keep it to yourself in the moment. You can always vent to some friends later on.
What about insurance?
According to Esurance, not all infractions will make a dent on your insurance premium. In fact, some violations won’t show up on your driving record at all. In instances that involve a hike in your premium, there is a beacon of hope.
Esurance pointed out that it’s possible to expunge previous citations from your record at a later time by adhering to court-mandated suggestions or attending a traffic school. If you’re not happy with your insurance price, you can also shop around for a new provider on compare.com.