What To Do If Stopped By The Police Know Your Rights and Responsibilities

There are many different reasons why the police might stop you. Whatever the reason, the officer needs your cooperation.
• The police may want to warn you about a potentially dangerous situation.
• You may have committed a traffic violation.
• Your vehicle may match the description of one used in a criminal act.
• The officer might think you are in trouble and need help.

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 the "routine" traffic stop. 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.

What to do when an officer stops you:
• When you see the red/blue/white overhead lights and/or hear the siren, remain calm, slow down and pull over in a safe location off the roadway to the right.
• If there is any question, if in fact it is a police officer, keep your doors locked, and window down only enough to hear. If the officer is in plain clothes ask to have a uniformed officer respond. You can also call 911 from your cellular phone.
• Do not exit your vehicle unless asked to do so. This is for safety reasons.
• 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.
• Avoid any sudden movements, especially toward the floorboard, rear seat or passenger side of the vehicle.
• Comply with the officer’s request to see you driver's license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration. Connecticut law requires you to carry these with you.
• If your documents are out of reach, tell the officer where they are before you reach them.
• 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.
• 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.
• Answer all questions truthfully.
• The officer may issue you a ticket. If asked to sign citation, do so. This is not an admission of guilt merely shows you received the citation.

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 will do the following:

Provide his/her name upon request.

Inform a person of the reason for being stopped.

If you have a question about procedures or a complaint about your treatment please contact the Police Department or refer to the Documents and Forms page for complaint information.

Use the following guidelines when you drive:
• Always insure you and all occupants are properly buckled up.
• Connecticut Law requires children to be in a booster seat until they reach a minimum of 60 pounds and they turn 7 years old. Any person who transports a child 7 years of age or older weighing more than 60 pounds shall provide the child to use an approved child restraint system or the child should use a seat belt system. 
• Don't drink and drive. Nearly half of all fatal crashes are alcohol related. If you drink, use a designated driver.
• Observe and obey posted speed limits. Speeding fines are expensive and may cause your insurance rates to increase.
• Impatient and aggressive drivers are becoming increasingly common on our roadways. Drive with respect and courtesy. Aggressive driving is against the law!
• Always avoid distractive movements while driving: using cell phones, eating or drinking, applying make-up, reading or disciplining children.

The Central Police Cares About Your Safety