While driving no one wants to get pulled over by a police car! Sometimes we know we deserve it but other times we’re thinking, “but I wasn’t doing anything wrong!”  Your heart starts beating faster and you feel your stress levels rise because there you are, pulled over, watching a police officer or trooper walking up to your car from your side view mirror.  Now what?  Missouri State Highway Patrol has a brochure to go over what to do.  Here’s the link  (or you can read this)  Here’s a synopsis and some other tips we’ve learned from talking to Ferguson, MO police department.  Each participant has a role and obligations to fulfill for a smooth “transaction;” plus there are just some smart things that make sense to do for the good of everyone.



Most states require that a motorist pull as far as possible to the right when a police car approaches displaying emergency equipment and until the patrol car has either passed or directed your vehicle otherwise.

§  If you’re being pulled over:

-          Simply slow down, signal your intent to pull over, then drive off the roadway to the right as far as is safe.  Open your window so the officer may see you.

-          It’s important that you (and your passengers) stay seated calmly, no sudden movements.  Remember, the officer does not know what he/she is walking up to, does not know you, and does not know your intentions.  There could have been a APB with a car matching your car’s description.  You could have a tail light out and it’s just to tell you.

-          Sit relaxed but alert in your seat. DO NOT reach under your seat, into a console, the glove compartment or any other place hidden from the officer’s view as he/she walks toward your car. 

-          If it is dark out or you have tinted windows, turn on the inside car lights on and place your hands on the steering wheel, palms facing you.

-      If you have a legal firearm, keep your hands on the wheel, advise the officer and tell them where it is located; then ask how they'd like you to proceed.



§  You’ve been pulled over and the officer has explained why you were stopped.  Then will ask for your Driver’s License, Vehicle Registration, and proof of car insurance.

§  Often the interaction can be completed not requiring you to get out of your vehicle.  Other times the officer may ask you to take a seat in the patrol car.  This is at the officer’s discretion as court cases permit the officer to decide which is the safest for the officer.

-          If you are asked to exit your vehicle, always keep your hands in plain view of the officer.

-          If you receive a ticket, don’t debate it with the officer on the side of the road; court is the place for that.  Jot down clear and concise notes from your perspective, keeping out emotion, as soon after as you can.  Draw a diagram if an intersection was involved.  Date and time your notes.



It’s important to note, if you’re driving alone and question if the person trying to stop you is an actual officer of the law, do not unlock your car or open your window more than a mere crack to talk if you stop right away.  Express your concern and desire to drive to nearest public place (unless you’re driving impaired or your license is suspended, most officers will understand and allow this).  Once there, keep your doors locked as ask to see proper identification.  If you’re near a lighted place signal your intent and pull to a public or populated area or a well-lit area like a nearby gas station.  You may even call the local or state police or highway patrol to see if a car is in the area where you’re being pulled over, if you’re really concerned.


Most interactions on the side of the road go smoothly.  By keeping a level head and using some common sense about being courteous and respectful you will help your stop be uneventful. 



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