A police car pulling over a driver at the side of the road Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Have you ever been pulled over by a police officer while driving? Your heart might race, and you may feel flustered, nervous, or angry.

But remember that the officer approaching your car doesn’t know whether you pose a threat, so it helps to respond to the situation as calmly as you can.

Follow these steps to stay safe!

First: Know Your Rights

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  • You have the right to remain silent though in some states, you may have to state your name if asked. If you choose silence, inform the officer of your choice.

  • You don’t have to consent to a search of your car or belongings. If you don’t consent, tell the officer. They still might conduct the search but if any evidence is found, it will be better for you legally if you don’t agree to it. Note: the officer is allowed to pat you down if they suspect a weapon.

  • If you’re arrested, you have the right to an attorney. One can be appointed to you if you can’t afford one.

What To Do When The Officer Is Approaching Your Car

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  • Turn off the car

  • Turn on the internal light

  • Roll down your window

  • Put your hands on top of the steering wheel, where they can be seen


  • Start looking around for your license and registration until requested by the officer

  • Make a move to hide any items

What To Do After The Officer Has Approached You

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  • Let the officer speak first

  • Try to stay calm, be polite, and cooperate

  • Show your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance, if requested

  • Keep your answers brief and simple to avoid incriminating yourself


  • Act hostile

  • Make sudden movements

  • Lie

  • Reach into your glove compartment or purse/bag before telling the officer you’re about to do so


You're pulled over and the officer approaches your car. Which is an example of a good first step you can take?

Take Action

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To understand this topic more fully, it's a great idea to do additional research . The more you learn now, the easier it will be to know what to do if you ever get pulled over.


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