Law Enforcement 101: Knowing your rights during a traffic stop

Law Enforcement 101: Knowing your rights during a traffic stop

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The sound of police sirens make many drivers nervous. “I don’t have anything to hide of course but you just see so many things happening that happen on a day to day basis that wall come up of fear,” said Christina Spann.

Getting pulled over is common but even Attorney Victor Carmody, a former police officer, said it can make you feel uncomfortable.

“Everybody I know, myself included. Hands will tighten up on the steering wheel when they see blue lights coming up behind them,” he said.

In a demonstration with the Ridgeland Police department, they showed us how to safely pull over for an officer.

“An officer does not have to do that and a person would generally then ask, why was I pulled over? And the officer can either say nothing or say something, his or her choice,” said Carmody.

The officer said you should keep your hands on the wheel and move only when instructed.

Keep in mind, the officer is more than likely recording the conversation -- with a dash cam or body camera -- and you can too.

“You will usually always look better and sound better on the video then the officer says you do, so don’t be afraid of videos,” said Carmody.

Here is a step by step on how to safely pull over for an officer.

  1. Pull over to the right side of the roadway and position your vehicle as far out of the traffic lane as possible.
  2. Turn off your engine and any other device (radio, etc.). Roll down your driver’s window and any tinted windows. Keep your seatbelt on. If it is dark, turn on the interior lights and your hazard flashers.
  3. Stay calm & ask passengers to remain quiet and calm, too. As the officer approaches, put your hands in plain view preferably on the steering wheel or in plain sight. Stay seated & inside the vehicle unless you are asked to get out. Make all movements slowly. The officer is watching carefully to make sure a weapon is not being drawn or something is being hidden.
  4. Ask for identification if an officer is not in uniform or if the patrol vehicle is unmarked.
  5. Usually, you will be asked for your valid driver’s license & proof of registration and insurance. You do not have to be told why you were pulled over before you comply. When you do move, say that are going to then move slowly. Put your hands back on the wheel while the officer checks your license and vehicle status.
  6. Answer questions politely and honestly, but be brief. Remain calm and respectful. Let the officer know if you are carrying a weapon and if you have a legal permit.
  7. Follow the officer’s directions concerning get out of the vehicle; suspicion of alcohol use; possession of illegal objects; or safety violations. Do not resist a pat down.
  8. Be polite and do not argue if you are given a ticket. The matter can be contested later in court. The citation may show the date and location of the court date, if not call your local police department.
  9. Don’t be surprised if other patrol vehicles appear. Remember, your interaction may be recorded for everyone’s safety.

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