Traffic Stop Safety for All, Including Carriers of Concealed Firearms

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When you get pulled over by a police officer, you may not realize that the officer probably feels as tense as you do. The officer has no idea whether you are a law-abiding citizen or an armed criminal who poses a serious danger. Nobody wants to see a routine traffic stop for something like a speeding ticket or DUI turn into a fight. So, what can you do as a citizen to get the most favorable possible outcome?

Show Your Hands and Obey Commands

When asked how citizens can avoid trouble during a police stop, experienced law enforcement officers usually boil down their advice to two points: show your hands and obey commands. But, we can break this down into a few more specifics:

• Acknowledge the officer. When you see a police officer flagging you down--whether through lights, sirens, or verbal commands--the first thing you should do is signal your intent to comply. A simple glance in your rearview mirror and a wave of your hand let the officer know that you acknowledge his signal.

• Stop safely. Next, pull over into a safe location. One mistake many people make is to stop short in a spot where they could be impeding traffic or make it unsafe for the police officer to pull in behind you. Do not put the officer in danger of having to dodge traffic to approach your car.

• Ensure visibility. You want to reassure the officer as he approaches your car. This is not the time to start ducking and digging for your license and registration. If you are in a dark area and you can easily do so, turn on your dome light, that is, your interior car lights. If you have darkly tinted windows, unroll all of the windows. Then place your hands on the steering wheel and leave them there.

• Be polite, but limit your words. When the officer reaches your window, you do not need to say anything. Try to smile to indicate your compliance and perhaps say, “Yes, officer?” The officer will probably indicate why you were stopped. If the officer asks, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” do not make the mistake of admitting to any offense. A simple, “I’m not sure?” will do. When the officer asks for your license and insurance, it is a good idea to say something like, “I have to get those out of my purse and glove compartment, okay?”

Disclosure Requirements for Concealed Carry License Holders

If you are a concealed carry license (CCL) holder, the Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act (430 ILCS 66) does not require you to proactively inform the officer that you are carrying a concealed firearm.
However, if an officer asks, you are required to disclose that you are in possession of a concealed firearm and you must present your CCL if asked. Upon request, you must also identify the location of the concealed firearm.

Any passenger in your vehicle during a traffic stop must also comply with these disclosure requirements upon an officer’s request.

If an officer determines it is necessary for the safety of any person present, you may be directed to secure the firearm or the officer may ask you to step out of the vehicle and let the officer secure it. You must obey such an order. When the officer has determined that you are not a threat to anyone and that you are physically and mentally capable of possessing the firearm, the firearm must be returned to you at the end of the contact.

Protect Your Rights with a Joliet Firearms Defense Lawyer

If you have run into trouble with your FOID or CCL, or you are facing any type of weapons charges, speak to an experienced Will County weapons defense attorney before you admit anything to the police. The Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba will ensure that your constitutional rights are protected. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation. We answer calls 24 hours a day and offer weekend and evening appointments.