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SPD Home / Traffic Enforcement / Traffic Stops

TRAFFIC STOPS - WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE PULLED OVER

Traffic Stops

Be respectful to the officer, and follow the directions given if you are pulled over - even if you don't agree with the reason for the stop. If you are issued a citation, accept it - you will have the opportunity to contest it in court.

If you see sirens and lights behind you

  • Immediately pull over to the nearest right-hand edge or curb of the roadway.
  • Pull your car over as close as possible to the curb of the roadway and stay clear of any intersections.

  • Stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has either passed or wait for the officer to approach your car.

IF YOU ARE BEING PULLED OVER AND AN OFFICER IS APPROACHING YOUR CAR

  • Stay in your vehicle and keep your hands visible.
  • If it is dark outside - turn on your interior vehicle light.
  • Follow the directions of the police officer.
  • Washington law requires drivers to show their license, registration and proof of insurance upon request from a police officer.
  • Be honest with the police and ask for an explanation if something is unclear.
  • If you are issued a citation, accept it - even if you don't agree with it. Accepting the citation is not an admission of guilt and you will have the opportunity to contest the citation in court after the fact.

Reasons for a stop

Police officers may stop a motorists for these reasons:

  • Traffic violations
  • Probable cause to make an arrest
  • Reasonable suspicion of criminal activity based on personal observations and information from other police officers, the police radio or a witness.
  • Outstanding warrants.
  • A police officer can also stop for minor infractions such as darkly tinted windows, inoperative equipment or failing to signal before a turn.

"TERRY STOPS" of VEHICLES

A "Terry Stop" of vehicles are when an officer may stop vehicles for questions, if the officer reasonably suspects that the driver in the vehicle has committed, is commiting or is about to commit a crime. The officer is not required to have probable cause to arrest the individual at the time of contact, but may have reasonable suspicion that the individual is involved in criminal activity. Evidence obtained through a Terry Stop of a vehicle is acceptable as long as it ws the result of a reasonable suspicion that a crime occurred.

 
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SEATTLE POLICE DEPARTMENT
Headquarters: 610 5th Avenue,
Seattle, WA 98124-4986
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