No matter the circumstances, being pulled over by the police is a stressful experience. While you may do your best to comply with the orders given to you, you might still feel that you are being mistreated or that your rights are being violated. You may also be concerned about your personal safety, which is valid given recent occurrences involving police stops gone awry.
All Americans have certain rights that must be afforded to them by law enforcement. While you cannot control the actions of the officer stopping you, you can keep yourself informed and take the proper approach to mitigate circumstances surrounding the stop. This can reduce harm to you and also allow you to seek justice for any transgressions after they occur.
Steps to take after being pulled over
Once you are aware you are being signaled to pull over by police, stop your vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so. Once stopped, turn on your interior light so the officer can see into the vehicle clearly. Roll down your window, but remain in your vehicle unless asked to depart. Keep your hands on the wheel so they can be seen by the officer, only removing them to retrieve your license or registration information. If there is a passenger with you, that person should also place their hands on the dashboard. Refrain from making sudden movements and inform the officer of your intention as you retrieve the request documents.
Your right to remain silent and to speak with an attorney
If you are being arrested, you have a right to remain silent. Inform the officer of this right when you are being questioned and ask to speak with a lawyer. You are not obligated to make any statements, sign documents, or take any other actions until you have spoken with an attorney. If making a call from a police station to an attorney, the police are not permitted to listen in.
How to address rights violations
If possible, take note of the badge number of the officer who arrested you, as well as the number of the patrol car. If you were injured during the course of the arrest, visit a doctor as soon as possible to have your injuries assessed. Once you feel you have enough documentation of the violation, file a complaint officially. In New York City, the Civilian Complaint Review Board is responsible for fielding complaints against the police.