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June 2018 - You’ve Been Pulled Over, Now What?

Traffic StopGetting pulled over for a traffic stop isn’t pleasant for anyone. Take it from a former police officer. But there are steps drivers can take to make the situation as safe and trauma-free as possible.

New Jersey law states police officers must have “reasonable suspicion” to pull you over. This falls somewhere between a hunch and probable cause. Some activities that could create reasonable suspicion include:

  • driving erratically;
  • talking or texting on a cell phone;
  • failing to signal appropriately.

What should you do if you are stopped? According to the NJ State Attorney General’s Office’s Safe Stop campaign, you should:

  1. Pull over as soon as you safely can. Remain in your car; exit the vehicle only if instructed to do so.
  2. Turn down your radio and, if it’s nighttime, turn on interior lights to give the officer better visibility. Open the driver’s window and any other tinted windows.
  3. Keep your hands visible. It’s a good idea to keep them on the steering wheel where they’re in plain sight. Remember, sudden movements can escalate the situation.
  4. Provide identification and driving credentials – license, registration and proof of insurance – when asked. You want to keep these items handy so you don’t have to fish for them. If you need to reach into a glove compartment or pocket, let the officer know before doing so.
  5. Be compliant. Listen. Follow instructions. Now is not the time to argue. If you have a problem with the way the traffic stop was conducted, you can file a complaint later. Being cooperative at the scene doesn’t waive your right to do this.

Most importantly, stay calm!

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