Why am I getting stopped?

There are several reasons why your vehicle may be stopped. Some of these are quite obvious, and some 
are not so apparent. We hope the following information will give you a better understanding as to why your vehicle was stopped, and what actions you should take in the event you are pulled over by the police.

Moving Violations

Moving violations are the most common reason a vehicle is stopped. Some examples include speeding offenses, failure to stop at a red light or stop sign, failure to use a turn signal, etc.

Registration or Equipment Violations

Registration or equipment violations are other reasons a vehicle may be stopped by an officer. The laws governing driving privileges consist of approximately 400 pages. It is not uncommon for a driver to be in violation of the law without knowing it. 

Criminal Investigations

Criminal investigations often involve searching for a "get-away" car. In today's mobile society, criminals often use cars or trucks to facilitate their crime. Your vehicle may match the description of a suspect's vehicle. 

Courtesy or Safety Concerns

Courtesy or safety stops are another reason why an officer may stop your vehicle. For instance, your trunk may be open, something might be hanging or caught under your vehicle, or perhaps you just left something on your vehicle.

Steps to follow if you are stopped

Stop your vehicle as far out of the lane of traffic as possible On a multi- lane highway, pull your vehicle off on the right hand shoulder. Turn your flashers on and wait for further directions from the officer.
Stay in your vehicle, and turn on the interior light. Good lighting assists in good communication. Relax and remain in your vehicle. If you leave the vehicle, you subject yourself and the officer to the dangers of traffic.
Keep your hands in view, preferably on the steering wheel. Wait for the officer to request your license, registration, and proof of insurance.
Police officers are trained to ask for identification first, and provide an explanation second. First provide the proper documentation. Then give the officer a chance to explain the reason you were stopped. Providing your documentation will simplify and speed the process. Remember, most often the officer is in uniform with a name tag displayed. You have the advantage of knowing with whom you are dealing. Extend the courtesy by providing the requested identification without argument.
If you do not agree with the citation, or the officer's demeanor,
do not argue at the scene.
All citizens have the right to question their citation before a judge. Every police department has an internal affairs system in place to investigate citizen complaints.


Common questions about police procedures


Why did the officer seem to sneak up along side of my car?

Police officers are trained to minimize their exposure to traffic and therefore, reduce the likelihood that they will be injured. An officer also has no idea whom he is pulling over at the time of the stop and is also protecting himself should an unexpected event occur.

If it's only a minor offense, why did two or three officers show up? A second officer is usually assigned, even on a routine motor vehicle stop as part of standard operating procedure. This provide safety and security for both the officer and occupants of the stopped vehicle.

Why do the officers sit in the car for so long? What are they doing? The officer is verifying your driving privileges and vehicle registration status through the statewide computer system.