Proper Conduct During a
Ask any three LTC Instructors their
opinion on what a licensee should do during a traffic stop, and
you'll likely get three different answers. That's because what
you are getting is just what I called it, an opinion.
Try asking twice as many police officers the same question.
Yup, you guessed it - you'll probably get half a dozen different
There are no a statutory requirements governing your behavior during
a traffic stop. It's all opinion.
Get ready for one more
opinion - MINE.
Start with common
It's 3:30 a.m., and you're traveling west on
IH-10, just east of San Antonio, near mile marker 593. You're
running about 80 mph. After all, it's a Wednesday
morning and you've, pretty much got the road to yourself. It's
just you and the guy driving behind you with the red & blue
lights flashing. Oops - what to do, now?
Your first inclination will probably be to pull off the highway to the right
shoulder. But, then you remember stories about drivers being
carjacked by impersonators with red & blue lights.
Alternative: Consider making a 911 call. When the
dispatcher asks you. "What is the nature of your emergency?" an
appropriate response could be, "I'm westbound on IH-10, at mile
marker 593, with a set of red & blue lights flashing, behind me.
Can you confirm that the person behind me is one of your officers?"
If the dispatcher cannot confirm the identity of the individual
attempting to stop you, THAT BECOMES THE NATURE OF YOUR EMERGENCY.
However, if the dispatcher confirms that the owner of the red &
blues is law enforcement, ask if the officer would be
willing to follow you to a well lighted, occupied area. Unless
the officer believes you pose a hazard (for instance, thinks you're intoxicated) to him/her, yourself, or
another, the well lighted area idea might also
sound good to him. However, if proceeding to another area is
not an acceptable alternative - STOP by pulling off the road, to the
NOTE: Over the years, I
have discussed this approach with many State of Texas and local law
enforcement officers, and none have ever found fault with a law
abiding citizen trying to ensure their safety.
It's 3:37 a.m., and you're stopped off the right shoulder of IH-10,
near mile marker 593, with a law enforcement officer approaching
your car from the rear. Got a plan?
Turn on your interior light
Shut off your engine.
Put your keys on the dashboard.
Roll down your window.
Keep both your hands in plain
When asked for your ID, explain
what you have to do to access it. This is so the officer will know why you are
reaching into your pocket or into the console. Then, whether or
not you are armed, show the officer BOTH your driver's license
AND your License To Carry. When you are, most likely,
asked if you have your handgun with you, a simple "yes" or "no"
should be a sufficient response. If you are not armed, and
the officer asks why you showed your license to carry, an appropriate
answer might be, "courtesy."
Be considerate of the officer.
who could, justifiably, be more nervous about being beside the highway,
at night, with you, than you are about being with him. Remember,
at this point, you know he's a law enforcement officer. He can only guess about you and your intentions.
Don't forget who's in charge.
That would be the officer behind the badge. Let the person
in charge direct the conversation. Resist the urge to
volunteer information. Apologizing for driving in excess
to the posted speed limit might not be the best way to handle
what might be a simple stop to tell you about a burned out
If you are armed, let the officer
ask about it. Trust me, if he wants to know, he'll ask.
He knows the appropriate questions. Volunteering
information by saying, "I have a gun," could easily be perceived
as a threat. Try not to scare the crap out of the guy with
the ticket book in his back pocket.
Be polite. Exhibit behavior
that you believe will get you out of the ticket you probably
Why go to all this trouble?
Because, a little respect and co-operation is cheaper than a ticket.
And, for anyone who can't figure out why you should be considerate of the
officer that stopped you, consider what might have been going
through his mind as he was approaching your vehicle. Below is a short video about one officer's encounter,
in the middle of the day.