Traffic Stops

If you are stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation, keep in mind the following tips to increase your chances of avoiding a citation and to make the traffic stop safe for you and the officer:

  1. Slow down and safely pull over as soon as possible, turn your hazard lights on so motorists notice your vehicle is stopped also, especially at night;
  2. Remain calm at all times.  Keep in mind that you may have committed a minor traffic violation which you are unaware of or the officer may have pulled you over because there is a problem with your vehicle such as a headlight out.
  3. Turn off your vehicle engine and turn your dome light on;
  4. Remain in the driver’s seat with both hands clearly in sight on the steering wheel;
  5. If you were wearing your seatbelt, do not remove it until the officer has made contact with you.
  6. DO NOT exit your vehicle unless you are instructed to do so by the officer; The officer may perceive this as a problem, such as someone fleeing on foot or preparing to confront or do harm to the officer.
  7. Be courteous and non-confrontational.  You should comply with the officer’s request to see your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.  If these documents are in your glove box or some other location, inform the officer of their location and follow the officer’s instructions for retrieving the documents;
  8. Listen carefully to the officer;
  9. Remain polite and use your manners to respond properly to the officer’s commands.  Do not challenge the officer;
  10. If you are issued a traffic citation, you must sign it.  This is not an admission of guilt.  You are merely acknowledging that you received the ticket.   Please understand that under Ohio law you may be arrested for failing to sign a ticket.
  11. If you have a firearm on your person or in your vehicle, IMMEDIATELY inform the officer, even if you shouldn’t have it.  If a firearm is discovered during the investigation that wasn’t pointed out from the beginning, you could find yourself being taken out at gunpoint and detained until everything has been figured out, as well as facing additional charges for failing to notify the officer.  Please keep in mind, it is perfectly legal for a motorist with a CCW permit to conceal a firearm on their person or in certain areas in a vehicle, but you also MUST tell the officer about it.

What Should I do if the Police Car is Unmarked?

Many police departments use both marked and unmarked police vehicles.  In Ohio, an officer whose primary duty is to enforce traffic laws must do so in a marked patrol vehicle, however, it is not unlawful for the police to stop you in an unmarked car.  In some cases, however, the driver of the unmarked vehicle attempting to pull you over could be someone pretending to be a cop for the purpose of carrying out an illegal activity.

Impersonating a police officer is illegal.

If you are skeptical about the vehicle that is attempting to pull you over because it is unmarked and you cannot identify the driver of the vehicle, you should:

  1. Turn on your four-way hazard lights to notify the officer that you are complying with his or her request to pull over;
  2. If you have a mobile phone, call 911 and ask the dispatcher to verify that it is an actual police officer attempting to pull you over.  This may be done by verifying your describing your location, your vehicle description, and a description of the vehicle stopping you.  The non-emergency number to the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office who dispatches for Frazeysburg PD is 740-452-3637, press “1.”
  3. With your hazard lights turned on, drive to the nearest well-lit and/or populated area;
  4. Attempt to attract the attention of a uniformed police officer if you see one;
  5. Once stopped, turn on your interior dome light as a signal for the officer to do the same;
  6. If the unmarked vehicle is operated by an officer wearing plain clothes, you may request that a uniformed officer respond to the scene.