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What happens if a police officer stops your vehicle?

Why did you stop me?

This is the first question an officer usually hears.

Moving Violations are the most common reasons a vehicle is stopped. Some examples include speeding offenses, failure to stop at a red light or a stop sign, etc.

Registration or Equipment Violations are other reasons a vehicle may be stopped by an officer. It is not uncommon for a driver to be in violation of a law without knowing it. That's why police departments have "courtesy warnings".

Criminal Investigations often involve searching for a "get-away" car. In today's mobile society, criminals often use cars or trucks to facilitate their crime. Your vehicle may match the description of a suspect's vehicle.

Courtesy or Safety Concerns are other reasons an officer might stop your vehicle. For instance, your trunk may be open, something may be hanging from under your vehicle, or you may have left groceries on your roof.

Keeping the lines of communication open.

Steps to follow if you are stopped:

Stop your vehicle as far out of the lane of traffic as possible. Make sure you turn your turn signal on to indicate to the officer that you are going to comply.

Stay in your vehicle, turn on your interior light at night. Good lighting assists good communication. Relax and remain in your vehicle. If you leave the vehicle, you subject yourself and the officer to the dangers of traffic.

Keep your hands in view, preferably on the steering wheel. Wait for the officer to request your license, registration and proof of insurance.

Police officers are trained to ask for identification first, and  provide an explanation second. First, provide the proper documentation. Then, give the officer a chance to explain the reason you were stopped. Providing your documentation will simplify and speed the process. Remember the officer is in uniform with a name tag displayed, you have the advantage of knowing with whom you are dealing. Extend the courtesy by providing the requested identification without argument.

If you do not agree with the citation, or the officer's demeanor, do not argue at the scene. All Citizens have the right to question their citation before a judge. Every police department has an internal affairs system in place to investigate citizen complaints.

"The way you do the things you do."

Common questions about police procedures and their answers.

Q. "Why did the officer sneak up along side my car?"

A. Police officers are trained to minimize their exposure to traffic and, therefore, reduce the likelihood that they will be injured.

Q. "If it's only a minor offense, why did two or three officers show up?"

A. Officers in the vicinity frequently back each other up without being requested.

Q. "Why do the officers sit in the car for so long? What are they doing?"

A. The officer is verifying your driving privileges and vehicle registration status through our statewide computer system. There is one dispatcher and a number of officers trying to gain access to the same system. When dealing with computers, delay can be expected.

Q. "Why do I have to sign the ticket or warning?"

A. By signing, you are agreeing to either mail in the fine, or to schedule a court appearance. Signing the ticket is not an admission of guilt and is not necessary on every ticket anymore.

Did you know?

Some rules of the road

Carry Proper Identification

When driving a motor vehicle, you must have in your possession your valid driver's license, proof of vehicle registration and proof of current insurance for the vehicle. If you are stopped and you do not have all of these items with you, a citation may be issued.

It is the driver's (not the owner's) responsibility to be sure that the vehicle being driven is insured and that the proper documents are in the vehicle.

It is the owner's responsibility to ensure that the person driving the vehicle possesses a valid driver's license.

Monitor Occupants

As the driver, you are responsible for the conduct of all occupants of the vehicle. This covers such things as passengers throwing trash out a window, hanging their arms or legs out of a window, or acting disorderly.

As the driver, it is your responsibility to ensure that all passengers are wearing their seat belts and that children are properly secured. Therefore, if a police officer stops your vehicle, don't remove your seatbelt.

"The Neptune Beach Police Department
 is committed to supporting and strengthening
the Citizen and Police Partnership."

City of Neptune Beach Official Website
116 First Street Neptune Beach, FL 32266     -     Phone 904-270-2400     -     Fax 904-270-2417

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