I remember getting pulled over for the first time like it was yesterday. I had actually previously met this policeman a few days before when he came to our house after a 13-year-old cleaning my parents’ cars took one out for a joyride and starting doing donuts in the neighborhood.
I was so nervous when I saw those blinking lights I completely froze and drove about 10 blocks before pulling into a restaurant parking lot. Luckily he was so amused by the coincidence of seeing me twice within 3 days that he let me go with a “At least you weren’t doing donuts. Slow down next time.”
But it got me thinking, I really had no idea what I was supposed to do if, heaven forbid, I got pulled over again.
The worst thing you can do is continue driving. Instead, keep your cool, put your blinker on, and safely pull over to the right lane (hint: not the shoulder or emergency lane – in many states this is against the law). Put your car in park or turn it off. Being over-prepared isn’t always better, and if the cop sees you rummaging around your car for your license and insurance information, he may think you’re looking for a weapon. So just sit still and wait. If the officer has reasonable suspicion that you’re armed and dangerous, he doesn’t need a warrant to search your car – he can just do it. (Cops can also search your car if you have something that suggests illegal activity, like a bong, in plain view).
Keep your fingers crossed you get one of the nice guys who give you a warning. They say what goes around comes around.
cover photo: @juliahengel