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What should I do if I am stopped by a police officer?

Information about what to do if you are stopped by a police officer.

Download: What do Brochure

This guide is available as a PDF document.

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Pull Over Immediately

  • Pull over to the right side of the roadway and position your vehicle as far out of the traffic lane as possible.
  • Turn off your engine and any audio devices (radio, CD player, cellphone) and roll down your window so you can communicate with the officer.
  • If the stop takes place in the dark, turn on your emergency flashers and the vehicle's interior lights, so the officer can easily see inside.
  • Ask the officer for identification if he/ she is not in uniform or if his/ her patrol vehicle does not have official law enforcement markings.

Remain Calm

  • Remain calm and ask all passengers to remain quiet and calm as well.
  • Keep your seat belt fastened and ask you passengers to do the same.
  • Stay in your seat and do not get out of the vehicle unless the officer asks you to exit.

Hands In Plain View

  • Keep your hands in plain view, preferably on the steering wheel. Ask your passengers to keep their hands in plain view or on their laps.
  • Do not make any suspicious movements, such as; reaching under the seat or dashboard. The officer might think that you are trying to hide something or that you are searching for something.

Weapons Possession

  • Let the officer know if you are carrying a weapon in your car or on your person. Tell the officer if you have a concealed carry permit.
  • Do not be surprised if another patrol car appears. This is only to assure the safety of all parties involved.

Documents Required

  • The officer will ask for your driver's license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance.
  • Tell the officer where these documents are located and reach for them slowly, keeping one hand on the steering wheel.

Communicate Clearly

  • Answer the officers' questions fully and clearly.
  • If you disagree with the officer, do not discuss your point of view during the traffic stop. You will be given the opportunity to do this in court.
  • If you receive a citation and choose to go to court, the citation will show the date and location of your court date.

Traffic Citations

  • If the reason for the citation is not clear, ask the officer for an explanation in a respectful manner.
  • If the officer gives you a citation, you will be asked to sign it. Your signature is not an admission to guilt. It only means that you acknowledge receiving the citation.
  • You must sign the citation. If you refuse to sign the citation, you will be arrested.

Follow Up

  • If you believe the officer acted improperly, document the interaction and then call the APD Internal Affairs Professional Standards at 505-768-2880. You may also file a complaint online.
  • If you have any questions about New Mexico traffic laws, consult an attorney or a law enforcement officer who is familiar with the traffic code.