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WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE STOPPED BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

The steps outlined below provide drivers with basic information of what to do when stopped by a law enforcement officer or when passing a law enforcement officer stopped alongside a roadway to ensure the officer’s safety, the safety of the driver and any passengers.

1. Pull over to the right side of the road – activate your turn signal or emergency flashers to indicate to the officer that you are seeking a safe place to stop.

2. If you are unsure if you are being stopped by an actual police officer, activate your turn signal or emergency flashers and pull to the nearest well-lit location, or dial 9-1-1 and request confirmation that an actual police officer is attempting to stop you.

3. Pull to the nearest/safest spot out of the traffic lane (Do not stop on bridges or overpasses).

4. Remain in the vehicle unless instructed by the officer to exit.

5. Ensure that both hands are visible to the officer as he or she approaches (ex: placing your hands on the top of the steering wheel) and at all times during the stop. 6. Do not make any sudden movements while looking for your documents or throughout the stop.

7. If you are stopped at night, turn on the interior lights of the vehicle if possible so that the officer can see you more clearly.

8. Turn off the radio, put down any mobile devices, and give the officer your full attention during the stop.

9. The officer should introduce himself or herself by name, the agency he or she represents, and tell you the reason for the stop (A.C.A. § 12-12-1403).

10. In accordance with Arkansas laws (A.C.A. §§ 27-22-104, 27-16-601, and 27-14- 714), you are required to provide the officer with your driver’s license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration when requested.

11. Inform the officer where the documents are located and ask before reaching to retrieve them.

12. Be sure to inform the officer if there is a weapon in the vehicle, the type of weapon and the location. You should not reach for the weapon. Follow the instructions of the officer concerning any weapon inside the vehicle.

13. If you have a concealed carry permit, present it to the officer with your driver’s license.

14. The officer may approach the driver’s side or the passenger side of the vehicle. Do not be alarmed. The officer will approach in the safest manner possible.

15. Be courteous to the officer, even if you disagree with his or her actions.

16. If you wish to contest a citation, you should contact the court listed on the citation. Do not attempt to argue with the officer on the side of the road.

17. You may be required to sign a citation. Signing a citation is not an admission of guilt. It is just a promise to appear in court at the designated time or to pay the fine before the court date. Failure to sign a citation, if required, may force the officer to conduct a physical arrest and require that you post a bond prior to release. This may also result in the impoundment of your vehicle.

18. If you observe a traffic stop that does not involve you, do not approach the officer.

19. If you are passing an officer or other authorized vehicle stopped on the side of the road, Arkansas Law (A.C.A. § 27-51-310) requires that you move to the farthest lane or position away from the authorized vehicle as you pass. If it is unsafe or not possible to change lanes, then the law required you to reduce your speed as you pass. In all cases the driver shall exercise due caution.

Following these tips doesn’t mean that you won’t get a citation, but it does mean that you are doing what you can to ensure the safety of the general public and the law enforcement officers that you may encounter.

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