Seeing blue lights behind you often brings on feelings of panic even when you have done nothing wrong. This shouldn’t be the case but we have conditioned ourselves to the thought that if the police are pulling us over, we must have done something wrong. A traffic stop in Georgia is often misunderstood. The media has played a big part of this as well as a general misunderstanding of how our rights work in traffic stops. Most people believe that during a traffic stop, we have no rights and are doomed from the start. That’s simply not true. Here are some tips to help during a traffic stop in Georgia.
Avoid a Stop
First, try to avoid getting stopped by the police in the first place. Now, that doesn’t mean that if you see the police, try to avoid them or outrun them. Driving the speed limit, stopping at lights and stop signs and otherwise obeying traffic laws will reduce the chance of being pulled over. Here are a few other things that will help you avoid a stop.
- School zones – be careful to watch the speed limit. These usually have heavier police presence
- Construction zones – more likely to be pulled over if you are above the speed limit
- HOV lanes – in Georgia, you will likely be pulled over if you are travelling in the High Occupancy Lane with only 1 person
- Changing lanes – hopping from one lane to another will often get you pulled over
- Faulty equipment – many stops are for break lights or headlights that are not functional. Make sure you check these before traveling
- Always keep an eye on your speed. Georgia has a super speeder law. You can learn more about that in this article.
The Blue Lights
If you see blue lights coming up fast behind you, pull over to the right as soon as it is safely possible to do so. If it’s not you he is pulling over, it’s still the law that you pull over out of the way to give him room to pass. If he is pulling you over, the following will help.
- Be courteous with the police officer – no attitude
- Always have your insurance and driver’s license ready to show if asked
- Roll down your window – Do not get out of your vehicle unless asked to do so
- Do NOT offer information. Wait until you are asked and then only answer the questions you are asked
- Do not ask questions and do not begin a dialogue
- Keep your hands where the officer can see them
- Keep calm and do not be jumping around
Here is an example: “Hi John. You were going a bit fast tonight. Do you know how fast you were going?” John: “No sir.” “John you were going 90. License and registration please” John hands it over to the officer with no further conversation.
It can be tempting to defend yourself, especially if you feel the information you are provided is wrong. However, it is unwise to argue with a police officer. Keep your answers short, stay calm and be friendly. He is just doing his job.
Right to Say No
There are certain times you have a right to say “no”. Sometimes during a stop the officer will conduct a search of you or your car. The police have a right to know they are safe and that you have no weapons on you. This is a pat down. If they ask if they can search your car, say no. Don’t ask questions. Just say No. If they ask why, say, “it’s my right.. But don’t be rude about it. Just stay calm and say no.
What often happens is that they will give you a ticket and then say “can I ask you a few questions”. Tell them “no” that you are already running behind. Tell him Goodbye and proceed to your car. If you are ordered to stop – Stop. You have to stop if he orders you to stop. But you do NOT have to answer questions. Do not engage in any dialogue with him other than politely stating that you are not answering questions.
Arrest/Suspension of License
If you find yourself arrested or your license is suspended after a traffic stop, don’t try to fight it alone. Even traffic citations and DUIs have potential serious consequences. They can cost you your license, a job and more. David Crawford knows how speeding tickets can affect your life and your livelihood. Before you act, contact David to find out your legal options. Contact us today by completing our online form.