Stopped by the Police: Get out of the vehicle, or stay in your seat?

Inspired by this thread here:

Whenever you see people in movies and TV shows pulled over by the police in the US, they stay in the car with their hands on the steering wheel and wait for the police officer to come to their car.

I’m told this is widely considered a good thing to do, at least in the US.

When I lived in NZ, however, I was told by several people- including a police officer friend of the family- that staying in the car was a BAD idea, and the best thing you could do when pulled over was to get out of the car… It’s a bit hard to drive off or try and run the policeman over if you’re standing outside the vehicle.

In my own experiences being pulled over by the police in Australia and New Zealand, I’ve always gotten out of the car to talk to the police officer- except at roadside RBT checkpoints, where you’re supposed to stay in the car because it will only take a minute anyway- and certainly, I’m always more comfortable talking to the police when the car’s door isn’t creating a sort of “barrier” between myself and the policeman, and the police seem to prefer it since they can see what I’m doing if I’m standing in the open.

Of course, Australia doesn’t have CCW laws like the US does, so a police officer pulling someone over for an RBT or to check their vehicle is roadworthy isn’t likely to get a 9mm shoved in their face for their trouble…

Anyway, what’s the conventional wisdom where you live? Step out of the vehicle to talk to the police officer, or stay in your seat and wait for them to come to you?

In the car, hands in plain sight, no suden movements. When the officer arrives at the window, be polite and give them the papers they ask for. Then say “No” to any other request.

Stay in your seat unless directed otherwise.
Or just make a lot of sudden moves, darting your hands in your pockets and such, whatever floats your boat.

I’ve only been pulled over twice, but in both cases (Illinois), I stayed in the car. As you said, that’s the standard in the U.S.

After several incidents in the U.S. over the last decades, if you get out of the car, the police will presume that you have done so with the intent to better aim a weapon at them.

I can remember folks getting out of their car to talk to the police from years ago, (although even then the typical response was to stay in the car), but these days it is a BAD idea.
Deb got pulled over last year because she was driving around, lost, looking for an ill-marked street in a bad neighborhood while making a call. Her response when she saw the cruiser’s flashing lights was “Oh, Good! They will be able to tell me how to find the house I’m looking for.” However, the instant she was out of the car the cop hollered at her to get back in and sit down. When he came up to the window, it was clear that he was really upset. Once she explained that she was a lost hospice nurse making an emergency call, he calmed down and offered to show her right to the house, but he still admonished her NEVER to get out of the car if pulled over by the police. (She gets pulled over about three times a year in rough neighborhoods. I guess the police presumption is that any middle aged white woman erratically driving in those neighborhoods after midnight is looking to score some drugs, although I don’t know how many middle aged white women actually attempt to score drugs at 2:00 A.M…)

Having said that, I really don’t see much of a debate, here. It seems more like a poll, based on location, so it’s off to IMHO.

[ /Moderating ]

Once an officer has seen the bloody aftermath of a shootout between rival gangs of hospice nurses, he is never quite the same.

Just off the top of the Google search results, the Spokane Police Department, University of Southern Mississippi Police Department, and Waltham (MA) Police Department, as well as the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration all concur in recommending that you remain in your vehicle (unless told by the officer to leave it), keep your hands in plain sight, etc. I seriously doubt you will find any authority in the United States which would say otherwise.

These videos will tell you everything you need to know about what you should do when you get pulled over.

I’ve never been pulled over here in the US, but my own instinct would be to stay in the car.

That said, i have a copy of this little advice book, and the author says that, if possible, he likes to exit the car and even lock the car door when pulled over. His reasoning is that, with the door closed and locked, the policeman has no justification for any “grabbable area” safety search of your vehicle.

The author also, in states where it is permitted, carries a sidearm in a holster, and he says that the gun is also in plain sight when he exits the car.

Personally, i think that getting out of a car with a clearly visible gun at a traffic stop could be, in some situations, tantamount to suicide by cop.

There’s also the fact that you are less safe if you get out of the car, especially on a highway.

I was pulled over by a New York State trooper last year on I-90 and watched in horror and he walked up to my driver’s side window mere feet from speeding cars and trucks. When he got there I told him, “Sir, I’d be a lot more confortable here if you’d go over to my passenger window so you don’t get run over.” Which he did, but Jesus, he should’ve thought of it himself.

In Germany*:

Taken from, translated and paraphrased by me.

*) Please note that in the Federal Republic of Germany, police affairs are handled individually by the states. The advice quoted above is from the website of the Hessian police, and may not apply to other states. From my own experience, it does apply to Bavaria.

My uncles were all firefighters, who of course often worked closely with police officers. My cousins and I were told to stay in the car and put your hands on the steering wheel. Don’t try to dig out your license or insurance, etc, while the officer is walking up to the car. Just sit with your hands in view. When the officer asks for license and stuff, tell him “It’s in my purse” or “It’s in the dash” before reaching for it.

When I lived in Russia, people got out of their cars to wait for the traffic cop. In the US, as others have said, you wait in the car.

Here in Baghdad, you make a run for your compound.

Good advice.

I’ve seen at least three or four of those “World’s Wildest Police Videos” where cops gets run down by passing traffic while writing a ticket.

US here. Definitely stay in the car. Oh, and they will ask you to take off your sun-glasses too.

A bit of a hi-jack. A good friend was pulled over one time and I guess she stopped a bit suddenly. The cop got distracted and ended up rear ending her.

:snerk: I wish I could have been a fly on the wall at that exchange.

She didn’t get a ticket.

Exit through the window on the passenger’s side and run around the car screaming loudly while flailing your arms. As the officer approaches, dive back in through the window and begin reaching into your pockets while muttering incoherently.

Not really a suggestion. Just something I’d like to see someone try.

I got pulled over once while comming home from the firing range.
Even though I never needed to reach in the glove box to get anything the cop was asking for, I still told him about the (loaded) .45 in my glove box.

He asked me why I had it there. I told him. He then went around to the other side of the truck, grabed it from the glove box and told me to “wait there” (while he went back to his squad car to check my credentials.)

He came back, gave me a warning for a busted tailight and then gave me my gun back unloaded. (Which was cool because I didn’t have a gun license at the time.)

Following Fish Cheer’s advice would serve you very well in the US. People who fuck around with cops during traffic stops “just to mess with 'em” are idiots. Traffic stops are second only to domestic violence calls in being the most dangerous thing a cop does. Don’t be a fool.

Having said that, if during a traffic stop I am asked if the officer can search my vehicle, the answer is a polite “no.” It’s like Fight Club- rules one & two are “You do NOT talk to the police.” Especially if you have no idea why they’re asking.

Thanks, Snooooopy, that’s the biggest laugh I’ve had in days!