What do I do if I am pulled over by the police?

When you see flashing red and blue lights behind you, your heart starts to race and your palms begin to sweat.  Being pulled over a police officer can be a frightening experience, especially if you don’t know why you are being pulled over.  However, you should remember to do three things.  First, you should follow any direction you are given by a police officer, this usually means that you should move to the shoulder of a road. 

Once you find a safe place to stop, you should roll down your window and turn off your car engine.  Next, when the police officer approaches your vehicle you should have your license, registration, and in some states, proof of your insurance ready for the officer.  Finally, the officer will likely ask you some questions, like “do you know why I pulled you over” or “do you know how fast you were going.”  

You should answer the officer in a polite, respectful tone. If the officer does give you a ticket, you should immediately write a few notes regarding the location you were pulled over, the weather, what speed you were going, and anything else you might need to know later on.  Additionally, it might not be a bad idea to take photographs of the area with a camera or cell phone for use later. 

Are traffic violations civil or criminal matters?

Traffic violations are considered criminal matters, and are handled as criminal law cases.  As a result, the sentence imposed is an obligation that the offender has towards the state for violation of law.  This means that the offender can be ordered to forfeit his/her personal freedom, rather than just being ordered to pay a money judgment, which is the typical civil law outcome.  The state could be a local township, municipality, city, county, state, or even the federal government.  However, unless you've committed a major violation or the violation is otherwise dangerous or life-threatening to other motorists, the officer will simply issue you a traffic ticket.

Should I Hire a Traffic Violation Attorney?

If you are the holder of a commercial driver's license (CDL) and are convicted of certain traffic violations while operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), or you hold any of these types of licenses: Chauffeur License, Minor Restricted License, Recreational, Farmer & H-Hazardous Materials, you may be subject to more regulations and stiffer penalties which may result in the suspension or revocation of your license.  

Even if you are not a commercial driver, the consequences of traffic violation convictions can be quite bad.  Depending on the severity of the violation, you should consider retaining a traffic violations lawyer who can advise you of your legal rights and represent you in court.  Use the form on this page to find a qualified traffic violations attorney to suit your needs and legal situation.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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