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Dysart Willis

What not to do if you are pulled over by the police

If it's your first time being pulled over by the police, you may not know how to handle the situation. You may be afraid of accidentally talking yourself into a ticket. You may not know your rights, and may be afraid of accidentally waiving them.

Your actions in the moment can make all the difference for the outcome of your traffic stop. 

Here are five recommendations of what not to do when stopped by the police.

1. Don't run. As tempting as it may be to try to outrun the officer who flagged you down, don't. Pull over to the right hand lane as soon as it's safe to do so. Communicate to the officer that you are complying by slowing down, using your signals, or even waving.

2. Don't panic. Fear is normal, and the temptation to panic is perfectly natural. It's important to stay calm and collected during your exchange with the police. Remember that you have the right to not incriminate yourself. Be careful in what and how you communicate.

3. Don't argue. The police officer will ask you several questions. No matter what his or her tone is, it is important to respond as respectfully as possible. He or she may say something that will rile you up, but remember to save your passionate defense for the court room.

4. Don't lie. You may be afraid of the consequences of the ticket or charge, but no matter what, don't lie. Give your real name and respond as accurately as you can without incriminating yourself.

5. Don't go it alone. It can be costly and potentially ineffective to navigate the legal system alone. Remember that you have the right to an attorney. It never hurts to have a heavyweight in your corner.

Without a doubt, getting your first ticket is scary and stressful. It may feel like the end of the world, or at least a permanent mark on your perfect record. Remember that all is not lost and that this is only the beginning of navigating the legal system. You may want to contact a criminal defense attorney to advise you on your particular legal issue.