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What should you do if a police officer pulls you over?

If a North Carolina law enforcement official is behind you with lights and sirens going, it can be a very stressful time. It is often difficult to know what your rights are and what the police can expect of you. While you do not want to seem belligerent or difficult, it is okay to know when the police are crossing a line. FindLaw provides some tips to help you next time you are pulled over.

You should always pull over when you are stopped. Wait until it is safe for you to pull over, but signal to the officer that you are aware they are behind you and that you plan to pull over as soon as you can. Once you are stopped, avoid any sudden movements that may make the officers nervous. Be conscious of anything you do that may look suspicious or illegal. Turn your lights on in the car, turn the ignition off and keep your hands on the steering wheel. The officer is likely to ask for your license and registration, but you do not need to reach for those things until you have been specifically told to do so.

While you are having a conversation with the officer, remember that you have every right to remain silent if you choose to do so. If the officer asks if you know you were speeding, you do not have to respond. If they accuse you of driving drunk, you should be polite but do not need to admit to anything.

If your car is pulled over, the officer can search it if you give them permission. They may also search your vehicle if there is reasonable suspicion that something illegal is in your vehicle. If they choose to, they can place you in the back of a police car and wait until another officer shows up with a warrant to search your car.

Whenever you are on the road, it is important that you are aware of your rights. Everything from a traffic violation to a DUI can greatly affect your future if not handled correctly.

This is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.