10 Tips on Conducting Yourself at a Traffic Stop


There is nothing as anxiety inducing as seeing the flash of red and blue from a police car driving behind you. The panic of being pulled over can cause us to forget our rights or proper decorum at stops. If a police officer pulls you over, there are certain things you can do to avoid aggravating the situation and helping your case. At Koffel Brininger Nesbitt, we want you to protect yourself at traffic stops.

Things to Do at a Traffic Stop

  1. Pull Over: When a police officer stops you for a potential traffic transgression, safely pull to the side of the road. Try to find a spot that does not obstruct ongoing traffic. If it is during the night, find a well-lit area.
  2. Completely Roll Down Window: When the officer comes to speak with you, make sure that your window is completely rolled down. If you only open it a crack or half, it may look suspicious. A fully opened window demonstrates that you have nothing to hide and can make communication easier.
  3. Be Polite: There is almost nothing that will get you a ticket faster than being rude to a police officer. Upon a traffic stop, remember that the officers are doing their job. Treating the authority with courtesy and respect can potentially get your violation dismissed with a warning or maybe reduce your fine.
  4. Update Information: If you have recently moved, purchased a car, changed insurance, etc., let the officer know. You do not want to deal with correcting misinformation. In addition, the police may think you are presenting incorrect details that can be used against you.
  5. Keep Hands on Wheel: When the officer approaches, make sure to keep your hands on the steering wheel. This will show the cops that you are not hiding anything and are thinking of their safety.

Things to Not Do at a Traffic Stop

  1. Leave the Car: Do not exit your car unless instructed by the police. Getting out of the car can put police officers on the defensive. They will worry about their safety and question your motives.
  2. Do Not Lie: If you know you were speeding, do not argue with the officer about the speed at which you were driving. However, you do not have to admit fault either.
  3. Stick to the Facts: Do not offer unnecessary information. Answer the officer’s questions and give the personal information required. Do not name drop other officers or try to chat them up. This tactic may backfire.
  4. Do Not Make Quick Movements: Police officers are often on edge when approaching drivers. Do not make sudden movements or gestures. Wait until the officer asks you for registration and your driver’s license. Make sure to keep your hands visible so they can see your actions.
  5. Do Not Consent to a Vehicle Search: It is your right to deny a vehicle search request. The officer may be able to find other means on searching your vehicle. However, the initial consent does not have to come from you.

At Koffel Brininger Nesbitt, we believe that you are innocent until proven guilty. If you have been unjustly pulled over for a violation, you may be eligible to take legal action. Contact our Columbus criminal defense attorneys for a consultation to learn your rights.