Law enforcement officials say motorists are often not clear about what to do when being pulled over by city police, county sheriff deputies or state troopers.
Lincoln County Sheriff Curtis Landers has issued the following advisory.
When you are signaled to pull over by a police officer, you need to understand this can be a very dangerous time. Do not assume the officer knows you are a law-abiding citizen; officers must be cautious at all times.
Follow these recommendations:
- Pull over as far to the right as safely possible.
- Turn on the interior light if the stop occurs at night.
- Place your hands on the steering wheel until the officer can make a safety evaluation of you, your passengers and your car.
- Avoid making any sudden or reaching movements.
- Remain in your vehicle unless advised by the officer to exit your car.
- If you are carrying a weapon, inform the officer about the weapon and its location without reaching for it or handling it.
- Always follow the officer's instructions.
Stopping at night, especially along a dark stretch of road, can heighten the tension for you and the officer. Officers do not object to a driver proceeding to the nearest well-lit area. Simply acknowledge the officer by turning on your flashers and driving at a reduced speed.
If you are concerned the person stopping you may be impersonating a police officer, contact the non-emergency dispatch line or call 911. Ask the officer for the name of his agency and tell them you are calling the police. A real officer will not object to you verifying his or her identity and the stop location.
If you are asked to exit your car, walk to the rear of your vehicle to the side away from traffic, or as directed by the officer. Use the vehicle as a barrier between you and oncoming cars.
The officer will generally ask for three pieces of information: your driver license, proof of liability insurance, and vehicle registration.
Once the traffic stop is finished, walk carefully back to your vehicle keeping an eye out for traffic. When an opportunity exists, carefully merge back into the flow of traffic.
Being stopped by a police officer is not always an unpleasant experience. Remember that many times only a warning or other beneficial safety information is shared with a driver.
For more information and tips, visit www.lincolncountysheriff.net, or contact your local law enforcement agency.