Louisiana Traffic Stop Conduct for Motorists
Upon Realizing You Are Being Alerted By The Police to Pull Over:
Signal a right hand turn, then pull over on the right side of the road at the first SAFE opportunity. Do Not Delay. When you see blue flashing police lights in your rear-view mirror, pull over as soon as possible in a SAFE place on the Right Side of the Road that won’t put you, or the Officer at risk. Turn off your engine and radio, keep your lights on, and have your passengers keep quiet.
Keep your hands visible at ALL TIMES
The officer is always ON GUARD when approaching your car. Traffic stops, although routine, are one of most dangerous activities for law enforcement Officers due to its uncertain nature. The proper conduct is to roll down your window, place your left hand on your side rear-view mirror and right hand on top of your steering wheel. Remain CALM and still, do not get nervous or upset. Wait until instructed by the Officer to provide your driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration.
If possible, keep your registration and proof of insurance together, and apart from everything else in the vehicle; perhaps in the overhead sun visor pocket, driver’s side door pocket or within visible reach for the driver. Keeping it in the glove box or closed compartment is an unnecessary complication at the time it is most important. Shuffling through papers, “I know it is here somewhere” just increases your anxiety at a time when it is important to remain cool and collected.
Be Courteous and Respectful
Be Respectful and Courteous to the Officer. Address the Officer as such: “Officer”. Being Rude or Belligerent shows disrespect for what the Officer represents: LAW ENFORCEMENT. Do not invite extra scrutiny upon yourself by displays of contempt or displeasure. The Officer already knows you do not want a ticket.
DO NOT Admit Guilt
More and more police cars are becoming equipt with video cameras and audio recorders. What you say or do is being recorded, and will be used in court. For instance, when the Officer asks, “Do you know why I stopped you?”, reply: “No, Officer I do not.”
DO NOT Make Excuses, Beg or Lie
Making excuses or begging for forgiveness will not get you out of a ticket, it will be taken as an ADMISSION OF GUILT. Lying is not going work either, think about it, your dealing with an Officer of the Law, they have heard it all before, and if they haven’t heard yours already – it has got to be pretty outrageous. An outrageous lie to the police is not a good strategy.
DO Ask for a Warning
BEFORE the officer has begun to write the ticket, ASK for a “Warning”. Example, “Officer, within your discretion, would you please consider issuing me a warning ticket instead, I will be more attentive from now on.” Practice how you would say it yourself so it is natural and sincere. An appropriate time to ask is as you are handing the Officer your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance in an organized and timely manner after being directed provide them.
What Happens Next
Your behavior and attitude towards the Officer thus far can determine what will happen next. You may not get a ticket, then again you may. If the Officer says, “NO, your getting a ticket”, stay cool, they have not written the ticket yet. The Officer’s discretion determines how severe they write up the ticket; one violation or many violations. Receiving one violation may turn out to be getting a break under the circumstances. Knocking down your speed as written on the ticket is a common good break. The Officer not writing detrimental notes on the ticket for later use in Court is another good break. The Officer writing a note on the ticket that motorist had a good attitude, was compliant and courteous, and will help you in court later, and is very common and helpful to the District Attorney when exercising their discretion in court. Keep in mind that everything counts.
What do I do if I’m issued a ticket?
Politely sign the ticket; it is not an admission of guilt. Refusing to sign the ticket will result in your completely unnecessary arrest and a trip to the jail. The time to fight, debate or argue the ticket is in Court. On the side of road you will lose every time, in Court you have a good chance of winning, or at minimizing the consequence.
The most important point!
The most important point to remember is that from the time you get hit with the blue lights, conduct yourself in a manner that in the end will result in the least severe consequences in regards to court fines, fees, and contempt costs, car insurance rate increases, lost time, aggravation, anxiety and most importantly JAIL TIME. Do not let a traffic ticket ruin your day, it can be no big deal if handled properly.
DISCLAIMER: All information contained herein is provided for the purpose of providing basic information only and should not be construed as formal legal advice. The authors disclaim any and all liability resulting from reliance upon such information. You are strongly encouraged to seek professional legal advice before relying upon any of the information contained herein. Legal advice should be sought directly from a properly retained lawyer or attorney.