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What NOT to Do When You’re Pulled Over by Law Enforcement
You see the blue and red lights flashing behind you, signaling for you to pull your truck off the road.
Your mind races. What did I do? Why are we being stopped? How much is this going to cost us?
Your attitude and actions when interacting with that officer will impact how you’re treated—and possibly influence the extent of any citation.
So what should you NOT do when you’re pulled over by a Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) officer, state trooper, or other law enforcement—to ensure the stop goes as smoothly as possible?
EO recently spoke with veteran expediters Bob and Linda Caffee to get their advice. Here are the five things they said to avoid the next time you’re pulled over.
1. Don’t try to be funny.
“This is not the time to be a smart alec. Just sit still and let them tell you why they stopped you,” says Linda. “Be respectful, find out what they want, and answer their questions. When they want to see my license, I get my license for them and focus on just being calm.”
2. Don’t take your hands off the steering wheel.
Why is it important to keep both hands on the steering wheel?
“To make sure that they know I am not threatening,” says Linda. “If they can't see my hands, they might think I’m a threat. I have to think those guys are trigger-happy. And in this day and age, I don't know how they could not be trigger-happy.”
3. Don’t remove your seatbelt.
“If you take off your seatbelt before the officer arrives, you can’t prove that you had it on while you were driving. So make sure they see you're wearing your seatbelt before you take it off,” Linda advises.
4. Don’t take off your glasses If you have to wear them to drive.
“Keep your glasses on,” says Linda. “The officer needs to be aware that you had your glasses on while driving, so keep those on.”
5. Don’t leave your medical card inside the truck.
“If you get out of the truck, take your medical card with you. Otherwise, if the officer asks to see your card, and you don’t have it, they could cite you for not having it on your person,” says Bob.
What’s at stake if you inadvertently leave your card inside the truck?
“It can affect your CSA points, for one,” says Bob. “And they can put you out of service and make you sit there for several hours.”
The Bottom Line: Be Respectful.
Whatever the reason you’re being pulled over for, the most important thing to remember is to be respectful, says Linda.
That’s because not only is being respectful the right thing to do, but it can sometimes work to your advantage, as the Caffees can attest.
A few years ago, Bob and Linda were in Mesquite, Texas on Christmas day and wanted to go watch a movie. But as soon as they pulled into the movie theater parking lot in their truck, an officer stopped them.
As Linda tells the story: “He said, ‘You can't park here. There's no commercial truck parking allowed in the City of Mesquite unless you're on private property or where the truck has to be [for delivery].’ And I said, ‘Oh okay. We’ll move on. A rule is a rule. We were just gonna watch a movie.’”
But the officer’s response surprised the Caffees.
Linda continues: “He said, ‘Here's what I'll do.’ He handed us one of those big orange stickers—those ‘Move in 24 hours’ things—and said, "Tape this to your window. You don't want me to put it on there because it takes a razor blade to get it off. Put it over here, on this passenger side, where another officer can see it. And go watch your movie. Come back out, and take it down and move. That way, you can see your movie and not be hassled.’"
The lesson? As Linda puts it: “I think the officers will often treat you back with how you treat them.”