What to Do if Stopped by a Police Officer

  • When signaled by an officer, safely pull over to a place out of the traffic flow and to the right side of the roadway.
  • If the vehicle is unmarked, and you are unsure whether it is a legitimate law enforcement officer, indicate that you know they are behind you by using your turn signal or flashers and continue to drive (not speeding) to a place that you feel safe in, such as a convenience store, gas station, or other well lighted area.
  • Sit calmly with your hands visible on the steering wheel. If you have passengers, ask them to sit quietly with their hands visible.
  • If it is at night, turn on your inside light when you pull the car over. For safety reasons the officer will want to visually scan the car's interior before proceeding.
  • You can ask to see the officer's identification. This should include a photo ID.
  • If you are still uneasy, ask the officer to have a marked police car respond or call the Police non-emergency number (703-792-6500) on your cell phone to verify the officer's identity.
  • If requested you must give the officer your driver's license and vehicle registration. Tell the officer where it is BEFORE reaching for it -- especially if it is tucked away in the glove box or some other place.
  • Do NOT get out of your car unless the officer asks you to step out. But consider some of the above steps before you get out of your car.
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    If you are issued a ticket you will be asked to sign it. Signing the ticket is NOT an admission of guilt but an acknowledgment that you have received the ticket. While you may wish to clarify the circumstances of the ticket, please keep in mind that your guilt or innocence can only be determined in Court. Arguments over, or protests about, the situation cannot be resolved on the street. However if you refuse to sign the citation the officer cannot release you and MUST take you into custody.