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What To Do When Stopped By A Law Enforcement Officer
Know Your Rights and Responsibilities
   
 
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Why Do Police Stop People?

There are many different reasons why you might be stopped by the police. Whatever the reason, the officer needs your cooperation:

q       The police may want to warn you about a potentially dangerous situation.

q       You may have committed a traffic violation.

q       Your vehicle may match the description of one used in a criminal act.

q       The officer might think you are in trouble and need help.

q       You may have witnessed a crime.

If you are stopped by the police while driving, you may feel confused, anxious or even angry. These are natural feelings, but remember, traffic stops can also be stressful and dangerous for the police officer. Each year, a number of law enforcement officers are killed or seriously injured while making "routine" traffic stops. Police officers are especially vulnerable during the hours of darkness. With this in mind, there are things that you, as a law-abiding citizen, can do to help lessen the uneasiness of the experience. Remember: Be courteous and cooperative in any stop by the police. If you are courteous and cooperative, they will respond in kind.

Michigan Statute charges a police officer with the care and responsibility of the public. Officers who witnesses a person violating a traffic law or a local ordinance, may stop and detain the person temporarily for purposes of making a record of vehicle check, and issues a traffic citation or to make a misdemeanor arrest. (Motor Vehicle Code, 257.742)  State law 257.602 requires that all drivers shall yield the right of way to emergency vehicles. Drivers are to immediately pull over parallel to the nearest edge, stop and remain in a stopped position until the emergency vehicle has passed.

What To Do When An Officer Stops You

q       When you see the red and blue overhead lights and/or hear the siren, remain calm, slow down and pull over in a safe location off the roadway.

q       Do not exit your vehicle unless asked to do so. This is for safety reasons, for you and the officer.

q       Keep your hands on the steering wheel so the officer can see them.·    Inform the officer of any weapons in your vehicle and their location. Do not reach or point to the location.

q       Avoid any sudden movements, especially toward the floorboard, rear seat or passenger side of the vehicle.

q       Comply with the officer's request to see your drivers' license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration. Michigan law requires you to carry these with you.

q       If your documents are out of reach, tell the officer where they are before you reach for them.

q       If there are passengers in your vehicle, encourage them to remain quiet and cooperate with instructions. You, as the operator, are solely responsible for your vehicle and its occupants.

q       Avoid becoming argumentative. Arguing will not change the officer's mind. If you contest the violation, you will have an opportunity to address the matter in court.

q       Answer all questions truthfully.

q       The officer may issue you a ticket. If you feel the reason is vague or unclear, politely ask the officer for details.

q       You have the right to politely deny a request by a police officer to search your car; however, if probable cause is present, the officer has the right to search your vehicle without your consent.

Understand that each situation is unique and the police officer must alter his or her response to fit the circumstance. Generally, however, a police officer:

q       Will provide his/her name upon request.

q       Will inform a person of the reason for being stopped.

q       Will only arrest a person for a crime committed in the officer's presence, or when the officer has probable cause to believe the person has already committed the crime.

 

Questions/Compliments/Complaints

If you have a question about procedures or a complaint about your treatment, contact the Department and ask to speak with a supervisor.

You may also send a letter of compliment if you feel the officer was particularly helpful in your situation .  Compliments or complaints about officer conduct should be made within a reasonable time.

 

We Care About Your Safety. Use The Following Guidelines When You Drive:

q       Always insure you and all occupants are properly buckled up. Children under four must be in a child seat.

q       Don't drink and drive. Nearly half of all fatal crashes are alcohol related. If you drink, use a designated driver.

q       Observe and obey posted speed limits. Speeding fines are expensive and may cause your insurance rates to increase.

q       Impatient and aggressive drivers are becoming increasingly common on our roadways. Drive with respect and courtesy.

q       Always avoid distractive movements while driving: using cell phones, eating or drinking, applying make-up, reading or disciplining children.

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