I’m cruising along in my car when suddenly I fly past a cop hidden alongside the road and my stomach sinks.
Assuming it’s my unlucky day, the cop either whips out of his or her hiding spot, red and blue lights ablaze, or else they trundle along slowly behind me, striking fear into my heart before finally letting out that lovely “whoop, whoop” sound from their siren.
Regardless of the policing strategy, cops terrify me (you know, in a good way). I mean, I truly respect their authority and all, but when I’m the one breaking the law… well, it’s just very intimidating.
Anyways, moving on. Between the first flash of the lights and the cop standing outside my car window, I always blank on what exactly I need to hand over, whether I should remain still or reach for my wallet immediately, etc. My mind jumps to terrible scenarios where I’m handcuffed and laying across the decklid of my trunk while everyone I’ve ever known drives past honking their horns.
1. First up, you need to get to the side of the road (regardless of whether you’re being pulled over or simply letting an emergency vehicle pass). If you’re being pulled over, yes, you’re already busted, but there’s no need to twist the knife. Safely use your blinker to get to the side of the road, the sooner, the better.
2. Once you’re there, remain calm. Just roll down your window and turn off your car (unless it’s freezing cold or blazing hot). Do NOT start reaching into your glove compartment or digging around in your purse until your asked for identification by the officer — too much movement gives the officer reason for suspicion, like you’re going for a gun or something. Be cool, soda pop.
3 .Cops won’t (can’t) search your car without reason, so don’t give them one — don’t go chucking beer bottles out your window or shoving them under your seat. Also, if the officer believes you might be armed, they’ll pat you down and who needs that? Simply put: Don’t give the police a reason to search your car. Just be good.
4. If the officer asks you to get out of your car, get out; if they don’t say anything, don’t worry about it.
5. Let the cop do the talking. Don’t say something dumb like, “What seems to be the problem, officer?” or anything like that. They’ll say what needs to be said when it needs to be said.
6. You will be asked for your license and registration — pretty basic stuff. Make sure you always know where exactly your registration is in your car. It should be in your glovebox along with your proof of insurance.
7. If the police person asks “Did you know how fast you were going?” Keep it simple, yes or no. If the officer then tells you how fast they clocked you at, don’t argue. In fact, you don’t have to say anything at all. Saying nothing doesn’t make you guilty, and by keeping quiet, they can’t use anything against you in court…ha!
There you have it — the basics of being pulled over by an officer of law.
You know, for speeding or something. Bank robbers, fugitives, crack dealers and bad guys, hey, you’re on your own!
Lauren McCarthy is the face of McCarthy Automotive