Patrol Division

What to Do When Stopped by the Police While Driving

A police car in the rear-view mirrorThere are many different reasons why an Orleans Police Officer might stop you. Whatever the reason, the officer needs your cooperation.

  • You may have witnessed a crime.
  • The officer might think you are in trouble and need help.
  • You may have committed a traffic violation.
  • You or your vehicle may fit the description of a suspect.

If you are stopped by the police while driving, you may feel confused, nervous, or even angry. These are natural feelings, but remember, traffic stops can also be stressful and dangerous for the police officer. Each year, a number of law enforcement officers are killed or seriously injured while making the "routine" traffic stop. Police officers are especially vulnerable during the hours of darkness.

With this in mind, there are things that you, as a law-abiding citizen, can do to help make the contact a more efficient, positive experience for both you and the Police Officer.

When stopped by police, please remember:

  • When you see the flashing blue lights or hear the siren, remain calm and slowly pull to the right side of the road.
  • Remain in your vehicle unless the officer advises otherwise. Be sure the officer is wearing a police uniform. If not, keep your door locked and ask for credentials.
  • Try to keep your hands where the officer can see them. It's a good idea to rest both hands on the steering wheel.
  • Avoid any sudden movements, especially toward the floorboard, rear seat or passenger side of the vehicle.
  • Do not immediately reach for your license or other documents until the officer requests them.
  • If your documents are out of reach, tell the officer where they are before you reach for them.
  • If the stop occurs during darkness, the officer will likely use a flashlight to illuminate your vehicle. You can help by turning on your interior lights so the officer can see the interior of your vehicle.
  • If there are passengers in your vehicle, encourage them to remain quiet and cooperate with instructions. You, as the operator, are solely responsible for your vehicle and its occupants.

Many departments use single-officer patrol cars. It would be normal to see 2 or 3 marked units on a routine traffic stop, especially at night.