If you are driving and see an officer pull up behind you, you may immediately start to move over so they can get around you or so you can stop. Do you have to stop, though, if you haven’t done anything wrong? Even if you have, is it a requirement that you stop immediately?
By law, you are asked to pull over immediately if an officer asks you to. Some police officers and stations will say that it’s reasonable not to stop immediately if you need time to slow down, get into another lane or find a safe place to pull off to the side of the road. However, you should show signs of stopping, such as putting on your hazards and slowing down.
An officer should have a reason to stop you
While officers may not always have a legal reason for stopping you, there’s no way for you to know until you’ve stopped and spoken with the officer. You might have a tail light that is malfunctioning or have been reported by another driver for a driving error minutes before.
When an officer approaches your vehicle, you can ask why you’ve been stopped. They should inform you while they’re asking for your paperwork, like your license and registration.
After you’re stopped, you have rights
While you may not always want to stop for the police, remember that you have rights once you do. When the police stop you, you can ask why they did. It’s in your best interests to stay calm and to be polite during the stop, even if you think that you’ve been stopped unfairly or for no reason at all.
An officer may ask you questions about your night or if you’ve been drinking, but know that you have a right not to answer them. You don’t have to say anything that may result in an arrest or accusation of a crime.
So, do you always need to stop if you’re being pulled over? Yes, and as soon as you can do so safely. After that, you should make sure to know your rights to protect yourself.