A very important question that is asked a lot is, how do you know if the person pulling you over is a fake, especially if they’re in an unmarked police car? Firstly, if you are unsure as to whether it is a police car, don’t pull over. The police do use unmarked vehicles, but they are always wearing a full uniform when they pull you over. There have been incidents where people impersonate police officers in order to pull over vulnerable people, so the advice if you’re unsure is to slow down but keep driving. If necessary, put on your hazard warning lights to let them know you’ve seen them and aren’t trying to avoid them. If you’re with a passenger, you could ask them to phone the police to describe the situation, but if you’re on your own, wait until you reach a petrol station to pull in to. Then, ask to see their warrant card before you roll down your window – you can explain your nervousness to them once you have proof of their ID, and they will understand.
If a police car with blue flashing lights signals you to pull over, you should only do so when it is completely safe. Do not slam your breaks on in a frantic panic – assess the situation and only pull over when it is completely safe. They’re trying to get your attention, not scare you into a dangerous situation.
Next, stay inside your car. It might be tempting to get out to speak to them, but don’t. If you stay in your vehicle, the officer knows you won’t try to make a run for it, and if you turn on your light and roll down your window it will ensure to the police officer that you aren’t hiding anything and will therefore stop them from being defensive. Traffic stops are very dangerous for police officers, so by proving you are in no way a threat you will avoid any nasty situations, as they will definitely be on their guard.
Make sure you are completely polite. If you’re polite, they will most likely be polite back, and will make the whole experience as painless as possible. It’s perfectly possible you won’t be being pulled over for any reason other than to inform you of a broken brake-light, so don’t work yourself up into a panic that could come out as rudeness or aggressiveness. Be open and honest; most officers would rather let someone off with a warning if possible, so apologise if necessary – the police officer is only human. Furthermore, if you are issued a ticket, do not argue back to the police officer. Your chance to say your piece will come, but arguing with the officer is extremely unlikely to save the situation. Also, always give your name and address if asked, so they know you aren’t hiding anything and aren’t tempted to arrest you if they suspect you have committed an offence.
Lastly, when leaving the scene, you might be nervous or shaky after being stopped due to the adrenaline. Take your time pulling away, making sure there’s enough room and only doing so when you’re completely calm.
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