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La Voz Guest Column: Foothill-De Anza Police Chief Ron Levine

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In this installment of my guest column, I want to share some tips with you on how to respond if you are pulled over by a police officer while driving a vehicle.

Five easy steps to follow if you are stopped:

  1. Pull your vehicle to the right as far out of the lane of traffic as possible. Make sure you use your turn signal and indicate to the officer you are going to comply.
  2. Stay in your vehicle and if at night, turn on the interior light. Good lighting assists good communication. Relax and remain in your vehicle. If you leave your vehicle, you subject yourself and the officer to the danger of traffic.
  3. Keep your hands in view, preferably on the steering wheel. Wait for the officer to request your license, registration, and proof of insurance.
  4. Police officers are trained to ask for identification first, and provide an explanation second. First, provide the documentation and then give the officer a chance to explain the reason you were stopped. Providing your documentation will simplify and speed the process.
    Remember, most often the officer is in uniform with a nametag displayed. You have the advantage of knowing with whom you are dealing. Extend the courtesy by providing the requested identification without argument.
  5. If you do not agree with the citation, or the officer’s demeanor at the scene, all individuals have the right to contest their citation before a judge. Additionally, every police department has an internal affairs process in place to investigate citizen complaints.

Also, monitor the occupants of your vehicle. As the driver, you are responsible for the conduct of all the occupants. This covers such things as passengers throwing trash out of a window, acting in a disorderly manner, or drinking alcohol.

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