What To Do In The Event Of A Traffic Stop

Do you know what to do in the event that you are pulled over while driving?


Unfortunately, most Carolinians do not. Prior to the passage NC House Bill 21 in 2017, it was not required that the driver license handbook and driver education curriculum include information regarding law enforcement procedures during traffic stops and what a motorist should do when pulled over.


Thanks to the passage of the legislation, beginning January 1, this addition to the driver license handbook and the driver education curriculum is available to all motorists and is taught in all driver education classes.


Next time you go to the DMV to renew your license, pick up the free driver license handbook so that you can receive the latest up-to-date information on traffic laws. But for between now and then, here are the three steps that typically occur during a traffic stop and tips on what you should do as the motorist.


Step 1: Pulling Over – How you pull over when you see those flashing lights behind you may determine how the traffic stop goes.

  1. Communicate to the officer that you see them and that you are working to pull over. Slow your vehicle down and put on your turn signal.
  2. Slowly pull over, in a safe location, out of traffic.
  3. Put your vehicle in park – with your foot off the brake pedal.
  4. Remain in the vehicle, unless otherwise instructed.
  5. Turn your radio down to zero volume.
  6. Roll your window down all the way.
  7. Keep your safety belt fastened.
  8. At night: turn your interior light.


Step 2: The Officer Approaches your Vehicle. Officers must be ready at all times for the driver to pose a threat, which is why it is important for you to present yourself as low-risk.

  1. Position your hands at “10 & 2” on your steering wheel or extend them out your window.


Step 3: Conversations with the Officer. Although you want to know why you were pulled over, first the officer must know who they’re dealing with for their safety. Allow the officer to start the conversation.

  1. Follow the officer’s instructions.
  2. Answer all questions truthfully.
  3. Be patient about learning why you were pulled over – you’ll get the answer.
  4. Reach for your license and other documents slowly, and only after the officer asks you to provide them. If they are not in your glove box, tell the officer that you are reaching to the back to retrieve them.
  5. Be honest, courteous and polite.
  6. If you have a weapon in your vehicle, you are required to tell the officer what it is and where it is located.


Traffic stops can be dangerous for all parties involved if not done properly. It is important to always remain calm and polite when interacting with an officer.

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