Top Tips | What to do when you get pulled over by the Gardaí

What to do when you get pulled over by the Gardaí

Former legal attorney gives his tips on the correct procedure to follow should you ever find yourself pulled over by the police.

Getting pulled over is something that will more than likely happen to you at some stage in your life. Steve Lehto, a former legal attorney, has given his advice on how to reduce the odds of being ticketed when you do get pulled over. 

This isn’t a guide on how to talk your way out of a ticket (especially if you deserve one), but rather a guide on the correct procedure to follow should you find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

The most important thing to remember is to stay calm. Put yourself in the position of the law enforcement officer who has just pulled you over. The key is to make their job easier and not to do anything that could make them give you a ticket, when originally they were going to let you off with a warning.

Pull Over Safely
When the Gardaí turns on their emergency lights and signals for you to pull over, don’t panic! Gently reduce your speed and use your turn signals to indicate that you intend to pull over to the side of the road. Make sure to stop in an area that is safe; leave enough room for the officer’s vehicle to be able to pull in behind you and keep in mind that they will need to walk up to your driver door.

Be Courteous
Something as simple as switching off your engine or rolling down your window all the way can go a long way in the eyes of the Garda approaching your vehicle. If it’s dark out, turn on your overhead light. Remember to put yourself in the shoes of the Gardaí in this situation; they are approaching a stranger who may act hostile towards them. By switching on your overhead lights you allow the officer to see inside your car and get a clear view of your face, you are demonstrating that you have nothing to hide. Similarly, turn off your radio when they approached and put out your cigarette if you’re smoking! It’s a good tip to keep your hands on the steering wheel during your interaction and not make any sudden movements.

Don't Admit Your Guilt 
Steve Lehto suggests that if you were going over the speed limit; don’t confess to the officer. The most popular question that they will ask you in this situation is “do you know how fast you were going?” The best response for you is “sorry Garda, I don’t know how fast I was going”.  Obviously if you were going well over the speed limit this excuse won’t fly! If you immediately concede that you were breaking the law; you’re not giving the Garda a lot of leeway in deciding whether or not to give you a ticket.

Stay Calm
If the Garda on scene asks you for your licence, verbally communicate what you’re going to do before acting.  If you keep it in your glovebox; say “okay, It’s in my glovebox I’ll grab it now”. Don’t nervously and without warning reach over to the compartment. Remember to think of the Garda’s point of view in this situation. For all they know you could be reaching for a weapon or trying to hide something. 

If the Garda goes back to their vehicle to check your information; sit still as you wait. The Gardaí are trained to look out for “furtive” or suspicious movement. An example of this is a sudden lowering of one or both shoulders that might indicate that you are attempting to hide something under the seat. Even if you were innocently having a stretch, this might lead the Garda to conduct a search of the car and your person; which would be an inconvenience to both of you.

Again, this isn’t a guide to help you get away with breaking the law. It is simply the best course of action to take when dealing with the Gardaí during a routine pull over.

David Stafford


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