What to Do If You Get Pulled Over  

  • Friday, July 17, 2015
  • by Jeff Smith

(Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. Make your own decisions out there.)

Getting pulled over by the police can be an extremely nerve-racking experience. Even if you’re not breaking any laws, seeing those flashing lights in your mirror can turn your stomach to knots and make the hair on the back of your neck to stand up. However, you can help make any future stops by the police go as smoothly as possible by checking out this list of dos and don’ts. 

What to do if you get pulled over:

A smooth encounter with police begins with you finding a safe place to pull over.

Kill the engine, and remove the key.

Be polite and respectful. Bad-mouthing an officer is always a bad idea, so don’t do it. Refer to them as “sir” or “ma’am.”

Remain calm. Keep your words, emotions and body language under control. Acting nervous or threatening only creates suspicion. Remain seated on your bike.

Know in advance where your license, registration and proof of insurance are so you can produce them immediately when the officer requests them.

Keep your hands where the police can see them at all times.

If the state is a single party consent state, record the interaction if you can. Single party consent means that only one party (you) is required by law to consent to an audio or video recording. A simple low profile handle bar camera that you can hit record on as soon as you’re pulled over would suffice.

If you feel your rights have been violated:

Remember officers’ badge and patrol car numbers.

Write down everything you remember ASAP.

Try to find witnesses’ names and phone numbers.

If you are injured seek medical attention, but be sure to photograph your injuries as soon as possible.

File a written complaint with the police department’s internal affairs division of civilian complaint board. 

What NOT TO DO if you are pulled over:

Do not run–on foot or with your vehicle. 

Do not touch any police officer.

Do not resist, even if you believe you are innocent.

For the love of everything holy, do not argue with the officer. Anything you say can be used against you, so keep your responses short, factual and courteous.

Police may "pat-down" your clothing if they suspect a concealed weapon. As stated earlier, don’t physically resist, but make it clear that you do not consent to any further search.

Do not complain or tell the police that you’re going to file a complaint.

Do not make any statements regarding the incident. Whatever you say WILL be used against you. Police who suspect criminal behavior will attempt to glean incriminating statements from you BEFORE advising you that you’re under arrest. Ask for a lawyer before answering questions.

Do not obstruct or interfere with the police - you can be arrested for it.

If you are arrested:

Ask for a lawyer immediately. If you can’t afford a lawyer, you have the right to a public attorney and should ask the police how to contact one. 

You have the right to remain silent; exercise it. Say, “I choose to remain silent” to invoke your right. Don’t tell the police anything besides your name and address. Make your defense in court, based on what you decide with your lawyer.

After your arrest, you may have the right to make a local phone call. If you call anyone other than your lawyer, it CAN be recorded and used against you in court. Keep that in mind when you’re deciding who to call.

Follow the tips on this list so that if you do get pulled over on your way to the Best Party Anywhere™, you can ride away and continue to enjoy your vacation. To learn more about dealing with police and local and state laws of interest to anyone attending the Sturgis Rally, check out the Laws and Safety page from the Sturgis Buffalo Chip®. For more tips on motorcycle safety, packing, repairs, and general advice on how to make the most of your Sturgis Rally experience, subscribe to the Sturgis Rider® Newsletter.

You don’t have to head out on the highway after you’ve put down a few and draw the heat. The Chip has everything you need to party, eat and sleep all in one place. The best thing you can do is stay the night at the Chip if you’ve been partying.

Ever been pulled over while on your bike? Tell us how it went down in the comments below!

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