Five Steps to Follow if You’re Pulled Over Carrying a Concealed Weapon

You are a responsible citizen. You’ve legally purchased a firearm, gone through the background checks, learned how to use it safely, and gotten your concealed carry permit. You’ve got the gun in the car when a traffic cop pulls you over. You don’t want to create a situation where anyone could potentially panic, or where you could possibly get accused of anything and hauled off to put in a call to your attorney. Here are a few tips to help you keep the situation under control and stress levels down.

  1. Turn on your dome light and roll down the window. Do this as the officer is pulling in behind you. The light communicates that you don’t have anything to hide and are not planning on doing anything in your car that might threaten the officer. Attacks on law enforcement during routine traffic stops are on the rise, so the officer pulling you over may be as nervous as you are, and with good reason. The open window makes it easier to communicate and shows trust. Of course, if you have any reason at all to suspect that the person behind you might not be a legitimate law enforcement officer, never roll down a window until you’ve seen identification. In fact, if you suspect someone is impersonating an officer, call 911 and drive carefully and lawfully to the nearest police station.
  2. Keep your hands visible on the wheel and stay calm. Don’t make any sudden movements. You can reach for your license and registration once the officer is at the window and can see you clearly. That will put the officer at ease. If the officer can see your hands doing nothing, you’re not a threat. No matter what reason you’ve been pulled over, even if you feel it was wrong or don’t even know why it happened, remain calm and polite. Unless the reason was obvious (you know if you were doing 50 in a 35 mph zone), wait for the officer to tell you why you were pulled over.
  3. Inform the officer that you have a weapon in the vehicle and present your concealed carry permit with your other documents. Some states have laws requiring you to inform an officer that you are carrying a concealed weapon. Other states don’t have this requirement, but it’s always a good idea to do so. That way, should the officer decide to search your vehicle there won’t be any surprises that mean you’ll have to call a criminal defense lawyer. Let the officer know that you’re getting your license, registration, and permit from your wallet, glove compartment, purse, or wherever else it is. Once you’ve said what you’re doing and where you’ll be moving your hands, slowly and deliberately get your items.
  4. Never leave the scene or the car until told to do so. Any attempt to leave your car will be seen as a threat, and you should likewise never assume you’re free to go until told to do so, lest you end up having to put in calls to the lawyers.
  5. What to do if there’s trouble. Most of the time, if you have all your paperwork in order and remain calm and polite everything will be fine. Occasionally, though, an officer will be belligerent over your gun, and it’s not unheard of for someone to be taken in on a pretext simply because they have a firearm, even if it’s legally owned and carried. If that happens, don’t hesitate to call an attorney. You need to mount a criminal defense immediately, and an attorney can work quickly to get you out and also to discourage officers from infringing on law-abiding citizens’ rights. If things go too far you might even need a civil litigation lawyer.

Everyone gets tense when they see those blue lights flashing. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, getting pulled over can be nervewracking. Keep your cool, pose no threat, and make sure you’re always carrying legally. If you get in trouble anyway, contact an attorney and defend your rights and the rights of others.

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