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5 Things You Need to Know to Survive a Traffic Stop by the Police

Has this ever happened to you? You’re driving to your friend's place in downtown New Orleans. You’re laid back, relaxed, and ready to have a good night. Then something changes. You see flashing red and blue lights behind you and know your day is about to take a turn for the worst.

Getting pulled over by the police is more than just annoying. When the police pull you over, you're in the hot seat and at risk of an arrest.

We Wrote This Report to Help You Survive a Traffic Stop

Police don't pull people over to hand out tickets. They pull people over to arrest them on other charges.

When a policeman walks up to your window and asks for your driver's license, insurance and registration, he is looking for a reason to arrest you. He's doing a visual search to find a reason to slap the handcuffs around your wrist.

The best way to avoid an arrest is to not get pulled over in the first place. If you do get stopped, we wrote this report to help you understand how to avoid getting arrested.

In this report, you'll learn:

  • How to avoid getting stopped by the police.
  • What to do to survive a traffic stop without getting arrested.
  • The risks of getting pulled over.
  • How to find out what's on your driving record that could get you in trouble.

If the police stopped you and arrested you, you need a lawyer. Don't wait for the DA to file charges against you. Call us today to discuss the details of your case and start planning your defense.

5 Things Ways to Avoid Getting Stopped by the Police

It's pretty simple. If the police never stop you, they won't know if you are doing anything wrong. They won't have access to search your vehicle, and they won't be able to look up your past criminal history. The best and easiest way to avoid an arrest is to not get pulled over in the first place.

Remember these 5 tips to lower your risk of seeing the red and blue lights in your rearview mirror.

  1. Have current registration
    Cops are always on the lookout for expired registration tags. It's an easy excuse to pull you over and give you a ticket. More important, it's a good way for the cop to get a look inside your car. At that point, if you're doing something wrong, they'll find out.

  2. Have current brake tags
    Brake tags are sold all over New Orleans. They're issued at gas stations making them easily accessible to anyone with a car. When expired, brake tags, like registration, offer the police an easy excuse to get access to you and the inside of your car. These tags are not expensive – especially not compared to the price you could pay if you're pulled over and charged with other crimes. Don't risk getting stopped by the police for something so easy to prevent.

  3. Don't tint your windows beyond what's allowed by law
    Tinting your windows makes your car look good. It also makes it hard for the police to see inside. That's why there's a strict law about how much tinting you are legally allowed to have. As tempting as it might be to have extra dark tinting on your windows, it's a big risk to tint your windows beyond what is legally allowed. Overly tinted windows are a red flag for cops, giving them a reason to pull you over and investigate you further.

  4. Pay your insurance bill on time
    You might not know it's happening. The police could be running your license plates before they pull you over. One thing they're checking for? Whether your insurance is current. If you don't pay your insurance bill on time, your insurance company will notify the DMV and the police will find out. When they do, you can bet that they will pull you over and try to find other reasons to arrest you.

  5. Don't drive recklessly — especially in school zones
    Reckless driving draws attention to you and your vehicle. It also sends a signal to the police that you might be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drive the speed limit and obey the rules of the road. This is especially important in areas where cops are more likely to be on patrol, such as school zones.

Even when you follow these rules, you could get pulled over. Mistakes happen and even the cleanest drivers get stopped now and then. When that happens, you need to know what to do and how to act to survive a traffic stop without getting arrested.

5 Tips to Help You Survive Your Traffic Stop

Even if your registration, brake tags and insurance are current, and you follow the rules of the road you could still get pulled over. Traffic stops are a psychological encounter. To win the encounter, you need to be smart about how you act, what you say and how you respond to the policeman.

Here are five things you can do to make it easier to survive a traffic stop without getting arrested.

  1. Show your hands
    The police are very cautious. They never know what they are walking up to when they pull someone over. Showing the police officer your hands puts him at ease and makes him trust you. When you need to move your hands to get your license, insurance, or registration, let the policeman know exactly where you're reaching. Never make a fast or sudden move or you could lose that trust.

  2. If you have a gun in the car, let the police know
    It is legal for you to carry a gun in the car as long as you have the appropriate permits. Still, you should always let the policeman know that you have a gun in the car. That way, if he sees the weapon, you will not alarm him. This is another way for you to build trust with the policeman that pulled you over and avoid an arrest.

  3. Have all documents ready to hand over
    When asked, you will need to show proof of insurance and registration, along with a valid driver's license. Having these documents ready to hand over to the officer will give him less time to glance around your car. The sooner you provide the cop with the necessary documents, the faster you can continue on with your day.

  4. Be compliant
    If the cop asks you to do something, do it. Don't question their intent. Don't try to talk your way out of it. Being compliant shows that you have nothing to hide. If there's something you don't feel comfortable with, politely explain why. Stay calm throughout the situation and show that you're willing to work with the policeman.

  5. Be courteous
    The nicer you are to the policeman, the nicer he will be to you. As frustrating as it is to be pulled over, you need to keep your cool if you want to stay on the cop's nice side. Be courteous and show respect whenever talking to the police.

The best way to survive a traffic stop is to give the police as little time as possible to look around your vehicle. This way, you give the cop every reason to trust you. By having your documents prepared and not making any sudden movements, you build trust. When you treat the cop with respect and stay calm throughout the stop, you give him less of a reason to investigate you or arrest you.

Top Risks of a Traffic Stop

Getting pulled over is more than just a nuisance. It's risky. A policeman's job is not to get cats out of a tree and help children cross the street. It's to make arrests.

Anytime the police have direct access to you and your vehicle you're in jeopardy of an arrest. It does not matter how minor the infraction might be, any wrongdoing will get you arrested.

Throughout the course of any traffic stop, the cop is looking for the following:

  • Signs that you've been drinking
    Even if the policeman did not pull you over for reckless driving, he will still be looking for signs that you've had a few too many drinks. Signs he's looking for include slurred speech, the smell of booze, or red eyes. If he thinks you could be under the influence of alcohol, you will have to undergo a field sobriety test right then and there. If you fail, you will be arrested.

  • Paraphernalia or proof that you have drugs in your possession
    The cop will glance around your car to look for any pipes, bags, or signs of drugs. He will also look for other signs, such as smell, glassy eyes, or other signs that you could be under the influence of drugs. If he thinks you are, you will be placed under arrest.

  • If you have a warrant out for your arrest
    The police will run a background check on you to see whether or not you have a warrant out for your arrest. If you do, your traffic stop is enough to put you in handcuffs.

  • Any other reason to arrest you
    The policeman did not go to the academy to hand out traffic tickets all day. He pulls you over to find out if you're up to no good or there is a reason to get you off the streets. He's looking for any type of wrongdoing as a reason to arrest you.

The cop's number one reason for pulling you over is not to give you a ticket. It's to look for other opportunities to arrest you.

During a traffic stop, the police officer scrutinizes your every move. He's looking for signs of other wrongdoing, such as slurring your words to signify you might have been drinking.


The best way to survive a traffic stop is to not get pulled over at all. Many drivers are pulled over for something extremely minor and then charged with something life changing.

If you do get pulled over, remember these five critical steps: Show your hands, let the policeman know you have a weapon, have everything ready to hand over, be compliant, and be courteous. By doing this, you give the policeman less of a reason to investigate you and make it harder for the policeman to find other reasons to look inside your car.

If you are arrested, it is important that you put a lawyer on your side as soon as possible. The faster a lawyer begins working with you, the better and stronger your defense will be.

Contact us right away.

At Mordock Law Group, we know what it takes to plan a strong defense and win your case! Stop by or call our uptown New Orleans office to discuss your case.

  • 7611 Maple St, Suite A3, New Orleans, LA 70118
  • Phone: 888-254-0064
  • Fax: 504.342.2154

About the Author: Craig Mordock

Craig Mordock graduated from Seton Hall University with a Bachelor of Science in Finance. He then attended Tulane University Law School where he earned his Juris Doctor degree. He has worked in a variety of legal roles including as Senior Assistant District Attorney for the felony trials section in Orleans Parish. Now he owns his practice, Mordock Law Firm where he works as a civil litigator.

Craig Mordock is barred in the Federal District Court Eastern District of Louisiana, and all Louisiana state courts. As a founding member of the Criminal Court Bar association, and a member of several other associations, including the Louisiana State Bar association, American Bar Association, New Orleans Bar Association, and the Federal Bar association, he's an experienced, skilled criminal defense lawyer.

Appendix: The Problem Driver Pointer System

When the policeman gets your driver's license and goes back to his vehicle, do you know where he's looking? Chances are, he's searching for your record in the National Driver Register (NDR) Master File.

The National Driver Register Master File connects to the Problem Driver Pointer System. This system pulls information from across the country. The basic information the cop uses this information for is to verify your identity. If you're holding a license that is not yours, he will know.

More important, the police also use this system to determine if you are ineligible to drive. Because the system pulls information from across the country, any traffic violations in another state will pull up on his screen. If you're driving illegally, the police will know!

Do you know if you're in the system? It's free to find out. Send a letter to the following address:

National Driver Register
1200 New Jersey Avenue
S.E., Washington, D.C. 20590

In the letter, include your name, address, driver's license number, date of birth, sex, weight, eye color, and any other relevant information. If you find out your name is on the NDR, you must pay whatever fines, dues, or reinstatement fees you owe to get your name off the list. Getting your name off the list will make surviving traffic stops without an arrest much easier.


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