There will soon be updates made to the Arizona drivers handbook as well as the state’s written driving test. These changes will focus on the proper actions a driver should use if they are ever pulled over by a police officer. Certain behaviors, even when carried out innocently, can inadvertently raise tensions in these encounters. Even if you don’t live in Arizona, knowing how to conduct yourself at a traffic stop is beneficial.
How to Handle a Traffic Stop
It is necessary for the safety of both driver and officer that the driver responded appropriately at a traffic stop. Often drivers do not recognize the expectations the officer has as to their behavior. Knowing how to respond in these situations is the responsibility of every driver.
Here are some do’s and don’ts that drivers should be aware of whenever they see those flashing red and blue lights behind them.
- Pull as far off of the road as possible – Stopping to the edge of the roadway will leave the officer in danger of being struck by passing traffic. While most states do have a “move over” law, it is often not followed.
- Don’t reach into your glove compartment – For many drivers, it seems natural to reach for their registration and insurance cards for the convenience of the officer. Drivers must understand that this move may be perceived as a threat to the officer as he has no idea what you are reaching for.
- Roll down your window – This shows the officer respect and signals your willingness to talk and cooperate.
- Keep both hands on the wheel – Having both hands in plain sight will also ease the worry of the officer as he approaches as he will be aware that you pose no threat.
- Prepare your car for the conversation – To get ready for your little chat, out of politeness, turn your radio off and your dome light on. This way the officer can communicate without distraction, and you will be able to hear everything he says clearly. The officer will also appreciate having a clear view of the car’s interior.
Sweeten the Deal
As the old proverb goes, “You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” There is no reason to become defensive or combative the officer. This attitude will not improve the situation and, in fact, may even make it worse. Bear in mind that the police are just doing their job when drivers are pulled over. Many officers say that they take no particular pleasure from this as they know most citizens would rather not pay a fine to the city. However, since public safety is their first concern, willful disregard driving law must be cited.
Even if you believe that you were not at fault, you should still treat the officer with courtesy and respect. If the ticket was in error, the proper location for debate is the courtroom not the side of the road. A proper response to the officer may lead to a lesser charge or even a warning.
Being a police officer is not an easy job. The everyday stresses make their jobs harder than most. Do your best to help reduce that stress by responding appropriately at traffic stops.
If you have been pulled over, even if your response was less than exemplary, check with the court about getting it dismissed with a defensive driving course like the one offered by ApprovedCourse.com.