What to Do When Stopped by the Police


A traffic stop is one of the most frequent encounters between citizens and police. Usually, police officers will pull a vehicle over if they have reason to believe that some offense has occurred. You may feel anxious, irritated at the delay, or concerned about a possible citation. However, officers are also concerned about possible threats to their personal safety while performing their duties.

These recommended procedures will ensure that the traffic stop can be completed quickly and safely. This is not provided as a legal advisory but as a courtesy to you: police car in rearview

  • When signaled by an officer, safely pull over to a place out of traffic flow.
  • Sit calmly, with your hands visible on the steering wheel.
  • If you have passengers, ask them to sit quietly with their hands visible.
  • Avoid sudden movements or ducking in the seat; these actions can unnecessarily alarm the officer.
  • If it is dark, turn on your inside light when pulled over by the police
  • For safety reasons, the officer will want to visually scan the car's interior before proceeding.
  • Do not exit your car unless the officer asks you to step out. If you are asked to do so, comply in a calm manner. A sure way to put an officer at ease is to communicate what you are doing.
  • If the officer asks for something, and that item is in your glove compartment, tell the officer it is in there before you reach for it.
  • If you receive a citation, accepting it is not an admission of guilt but an acknowledgement that you have received the citation.
  • A courtroom is the place to air arguments or protests about the citation, not on the street with the officer.
  • If you are stopped for speeding, you have the right to request a check of the radar, but you do not have the right to see the radar unit (this only applies in Georgia). This is for your safety and the safety of the officer.