What to do if you are stopped at a traffic stop

What to do if you are stopped at a traffic stop

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Routine traffic stops are part of a typical day for those working in law enforcement, but in some cases they can go terribly wrong.

Back in May, two Hattiesburg police officers were killed while responding to a routine traffic stop.

So when you see those blue lights flashing in your rear-view mirror, do you really know what to do?

Officer Brent Barfield with the Mississippi Highway Patrol said the first thing a driver should do is find a safe place to pull over.

"Don't immediately hit your brakes especially if you are in a high volume traffic area.  Find a safe place and gradually come to a stop on the right-hand shoulder of the road," Barfield said.

He said one of the biggest mistakes people make is making sudden movement.

"The driver needs to keep his or her hands on the steering wheel at all times," Barfield said. "That's very concerning for a law enforcement officer."

He also said never exit your vehicle under any circumstances if you're pulled over by a Mississippi State Trooper.

"The best thing to do is to wait until that law enforcement officer gets to the side of that vehicle, and then get your documentation, whatever he asks for," Barfield said.

An officer may ask to search your vehicle, but Barfield said a driver can decline that request without a search warrant.

"If a law enforcement officer deems it necessary in that particular traffic stop, he will ask for consent to search that vehicle, and they do have a right to say no," Barfield said.

Barfield said the best thing to do when you're pulled over is to remain calm and cooperate with law enforcement.