Best Way to Handle a Traffic Stop? Keep Your Cool

12 Dec Best Way to Handle a Traffic Stop? Keep Your Cool

A recent news story reminded us that not everyone knows how to behave when it comes to dealing with minor traffic violations. The best advice is simple: Be polite, follow the directions of the officer, and keep your cool. Traffic stops should be quick and easy events with very little stress, but when a driver doesn’t think clearly and allows things to escalate, even the simplest traffic stop can end badly.

How Not to Do It

On November 14, an NYPD officer in Queens issued a driver a ticket for making an improper turn. The driver was unhappy with the ticket and protested, as many drivers do. But this driver took things much further.

Instead of just taking the ticket and perhaps challenging it in court, the driver proceeded to follow the ticketing officer around the neighborhood in his vehicle as the officer pulled over and ticketed two other motorists for other minor violations.

At each stop, the hot-headed driver allegedly verbally abused the officer, cursed at him, and threatened to sue. According to the officer, the driver also challenged him to a fight. It was at that point that the officer put the driver in handcuffs and arrested him, writing him up on charges of menacing, harassment, stalking, and obstruction of governmental administration.

At a hearing, the driver was allowed to plead guilty to disorderly conduct and was released. This was the man’s first arrest in New York City, so the charge will be erased and he’ll have no criminal record if he commits no other crimes for a year. But he was unapologetic about the incident and continues to threaten to sue.

The citation for making an improper turn—what this whole incident blew up over—carries a $150 fine and two points on the offending driver’s license.

It Pays to Behave

If you’re pulled over, you should always be courteous and polite to the officer. It can’t hurt; after all, the officer might choose to let you off with a warning. You should never get belligerent, never get physical, and never give an officer a hard time.

During a traffic stop, an officer has the right to request your license and registration. He or she can also ask you to leave the car, and can even subject you to a pat-down search. Generally speaking, it’s usually the best course of action to comply.

You do have rights, of course—one of which is to remain silent. While it’s usually a crime to lie to the police, you’re also usually under no obligation to share information with them. Keeping your answers short and to the point is a good idea.

Growing Concern

This isn’t a trivial issue. Average citizens are most likely to interact with police during routine traffic stops. Some places have come to see misbehavior during these meetings as a serious issue.

In Louisiana this year, a new law will require driver education courses “to include instruction relative to appropriate driver conduct when stopped by a law enforcement officer.” They wouldn’t have gone so far if they didn’t see this as a problem.

NYC Traffic Ticket Lawyer

As a traffic ticket law firm in New York City, we can’t even count how many different situations we’ve seen involving traffic stops. We also know that no amount of advice will keep every ticket from being written. But we know for certain that being on your best behavior can sometimes help, and every driver should remember that.

If you’ve come here looking for help, you’ve probably already received a ticket. The Law Office of James Medows focuses on helping drivers challenge their tickets. Many tickets can be reduced or dismissed. Give us a call today at 917-856-1247 or fill out the form at the bottom of this page to schedule a no-cost consultation.