If You Are Stopped Continued.....

While there are no specific guidelines for citizens in handling contacts with police, the following advice is beneficial. [We are not offering legal advice.] The goals of the police department are to improve police-community relations and to have contacts and interviews resolved without unnecessary conflict or injury to either the officer or the citizen.

If You Are Stopped By The Police While In Your Car...
  • As soon as you notice the police emergency lights, pull your vehicle over to the right immediately.
    • Although you might not know the reason, you should pull over right away.
    • You may have committed some minor traffic violation without realizing it.
    • There may be some problem with your vehicle of which you are unaware.
  • Remain in your vehicle while the officer approaches.
    • Do not attempt to get out of your vehicle or approach the officer.
    • Exiting your vehicle does not assist the officer and may be perceived as a threat.
    • For the officer’s safety and yours, remain in your vehicle.
  • Turn on your interior light if stopped at night.
    • A lit vehicle cabin will reduce the officer’s concern regarding weapons or other possible threats within your reach.
  • Keep your hands easily observable, preferably on the steering wheel, where they can be easily seen by the officer.
    • Reaching under your seat or into your glove box are actions that will cause the officer concern that you may be reaching for a weapon.
  • Give your license, registration and proof of insurance to the officer if asked to do so.
    • Tennessee law requires a driver to turn over this information upon request by a uniformed officer or an officer in plain clothes who displays proper identification.
    • Most officers will not provide specific reason(s) for the stop until they have received your license, registration and proof-of-insurance. This is to avoid debating the reason for the stop prior to acquiring this necessary information.
  • If you wish to inquire as to why you were stopped or offer an explanation, do so before the officer returns to his or her vehicle.
    • Answer all questions honestly. Information pertaining to prior arrests or traffic violations is easily verified via the police dispatcher.
    • Touching or threatening a police officer or acting in a disorderly manner could result in the filing of additional charges against you and you will be arrested.
    • If the officer asks you to step out of you vehicle, do so without any sudden or threatening movements.
    • Give the officer approximately 2 1/2 –3 feet of “personal” space as a safety zone to do his or her job.
    • Remain in your vehicle at all times unless told to do otherwise.
    • Do not become argumentative, disorderly or abusive. If an officer has already written a ticket, it cannot be voided at any time. If you believe that you have been unfairly treated, DO NOT make that argument on the side of the road. Your best alternative is to carry your protest to Traffic Court.

Whether an officer issues a ticket or gives you a warning is entirely up to their individual discretion. Your conduct during the stop may influence the officer’s decision.