What you do and say to a cop when you are pulled over can have an effect on the outcome of the situation. Anytime you are in the presence of a police officer, especially if they are pulling you over, stopping you, or wanting to question you, it is in your best interest to speak and act politely and courteously. Though the police are the authoritative figure, you still have certain rights.
If you see a police car following you closely with their sirens blaring and their lights on, they want you to pull over. Do so carefully and safely so you are out of the way of other vehicles and you are not blocking any intersections or driveways. Turn your car off. Getting pulled over does not necessarily mean you did something wrong or you are a suspect. Perhaps they are wanting to let you know that a tail light is out and they will let you off with a warning.
The police officer will approach you on the driver’s side. Roll your window down so they can see you and speak with you. Give them your license and registration when they ask for it, then you should keep your hands on the wheel so they are in sight. If you keep your hands hidden or keep shuffling around a bag, it will look suspicious to the officer and they may worry you have a weapon or are trying to conceal something. If it is dark out, you can turn on the interior light of your car.
The officer may take a peek into your car and look at what is in plain view, but unless they have probable cause against you, they usually cannot conduct a full search. For example, if this was a routine pull-over merely because you ran a red light, but the officer has no other reason or evidence to suspect you committed a crime, they cannot search your car fully unless they ask and you consent to it.
You have the right to ask for the officer’s name and badge number.
Many people do not do this because they do not think to do so or they are scared. It is a good idea to do this, regardless if you have a calm interaction with them, just in case. If things got a little out of control and you end up arrested, this information can prove useful to you later on as you try to build a case.
You may ask the officer if you are allowed to leave.
Unless they need to arrest you, they will let you go after documenting the information they need. If you end up arrested, get a lawyer to help you out, as well as a bail bond company such as Bail Bonds in Contra Costa to bail you out of jail.