Getting pulled over safely: What to do and what to avoid

Posted at 2:55 PM, Jul 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-15 00:38:21-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Last year, Officer Cory Petty with the Portsmouth Police Department wrote over 500 tickets. He knows a thing or two about traffic stops.

According to the most recent data available, in the United States, one in ten drivers got pulled over by police in 2011. In other words, every ten years, you are likely to get pulled over by police at least once.

High statistics like this made us at News 3 wonder, if you’re pulled over by police, what should you do to ensure the safety of the officer, and your own safety?

Getting Pulled Over“Don’t go reaching for your license and registration, unless you’re asked to by a police officer,” said Petty. “If an officer is walking up to a vehicle, and he sees the person that he stopped doing a bunch of movements and reaching around, that raises his suspicion level.”

Above all else, Petty says you should remember two things: remain calm, and keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times.

“There’s numerous reasons why you can be pulled over,” Petty told News 3. “You might fit the description of a crime. Your vehicle might fit the description.”

Officer Petty has had to draw his weapon during a traffic stop before.

“[There were] weapons in the car…unannounced to us,” Petty said of the incident. He says each traffic stop is different, and can present different obstacles for the officers involved.

In terms of educating the public, Portsmouth Police Department officials wanted to get the word out, especially in light of a recent officer-involved shooting in St. Paul, Minn. last week, when an officer opened fire on a man who admitted he was carrying a concealed weapon.

“Let the officer know if there’s a weapon in the car,” Petty told News 3. “Let them know if you have a concealed weapons permit.”

Most of all, Petty says to “stay calm and cooperate. That will lessen the stress level incorporated with that traffic stop.”

Portsmouth police officers also advise drivers to keep their license and registration where they can easily access it.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates black drivers are 31 percent more likely to get pulled over than white drivers, but Petty doesn’t see it that way.

“There’s no bias,” Petty told News 3. “ I treat every traffic stop the same.  I say my same spiel every time I pull up to a traffic stop. When I’m running radar, I can’t see who’s driving.  All I see is a vehicle that’s speeding down the road.”