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Ask a Cop: Where Should I Safely Stop When Getting Pulled Over

Have a question for the Sheriff's Office? Let us know.

Is there anything you have ever wanted to know from the police department? Well, this is your chance to ask. We will be teaming up with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies from around the county to answer your questions.

Whether you have a question about certain laws and how they might affect you, your family or friends or how to stay safe in certain situations, we want you to ask them. Every week we will run one question and answer. To submit a question, email jennifer.squires@patch.com.

Question:

Where and when are you allowed to pull over when an officer is stopping you while driving? Do you have to stop immediately or can you wait until you are in a safe, well-lit area?

Answer:

"Traffic stop etiquette" can help make a traffic stop less stressful for both the driver and the officer. My suggestions are: If you are on the freeway, slow down, and safely change into the slow lane (if you aren't already there). Activate your right turn signal. Continue to the next off ramp and stop in a place where there is enough room for both your vehicle and the patrol vehicle without impeding other traffic. Do not make a left turn at any point, as it increases your likelihood of being involved in a collision when other drivers are confused. Roll down your windows and turn off the engine. Keep your hands on the steering wheel and if you need to reach into a bag, under your seat, or anywhere else, let the officer know first.

If you are stopped during the hours of darkness, I would not worry about finding a well-lit location. Patrol vehicles have plenty of lighting and the officer's flashlight should be sufficient. In many areas, you could drive quite a distance before finding a well-lit area and this may make the officer suspect you don't intend to stop. 

~Sarah Jackson, California Highway Patrol

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