Traffic stops happen. Maybe you were driving too fast, missed a stop sign, or changed lanes without signaling. Whatever the reason for the stop, it is important to act wisely so it does not escalate and result in additional criminal charges.
Mistake #1: Not stopping.
Do not ignore a police car that turns on their lights and attempts to pull you over. Find a safe spot to pull over to give the officer some room and stop. Ideally, stay near the area when the officer first turns on their lights. It can be helpful to see the area the officer claims the violation occurred in case there is some confusion. This can help if, for example, the officer claims you ran a stop sign when you believe it was a yield sign. Depending on where you stop, you could still see the sign in question.
Mistake #2: Getting frustrated.
Be respectful. Do not start a fight with the officer, even if the officer is aggressive or rude.
Mistake #3: Failing to communicate.
If you need to get your registration out of the glove compartment, let the officer know. Do not just reach across the vehicle unannounced. An officer could misinterpret sudden movement, and this could lead to reason to search your vehicle.
Final message: Address problems with the stop at a later time
It is important to review the stop to make sure it was legal, but it is generally best to do this the next day or shortly thereafter not during the actual stop. Police need to have good reason to pull you over. During the stop, they generally need probable cause to search your vehicle. This is a legal term that is generally defined as a reasonable basis to believe that you, the driver, or one of your passengers may be involved in criminal activity. If either of these criteria are not met, the stop may be illegal. If the stop is illegal, any resulting criminal charges could be reduced or even thrown out.