Being Pulled Over

Overview
Getting pulled over by a police officer can be a stressful and uncomfortable experience, especially if you have never been pulled over before. This page is designed to familiarize you with what to expect from a traffic stop by the Billings Police Department.

We hope this page will help you feel more comfortable and informed should you have contact with a Billings Police Officer. Please remember that our goal is to make sure you and your loved ones are safe on the streets.

Reasons for Being Pulled Over
The primary reasons for being pulled over are for your safety and the safety of others. Officers carry out the Department’s goal of providing a safe community and motoring environment for the public. They are responsible for enforcing criminal laws, traffic laws, and investigating crimes and collisions.

What You Can Expect from Billings Police
  • The officer is courteous and professional and treats you in a respectful manner.
  • You will receive an explanation of why you were stopped.
  • If you are issued a ticket (citation), it will be explained to you and so will your options for resolving it.

What to Do if You Are Stopped
  • As soon as you notice the emergency lights, pull your vehicle safely to over to the right and stop. Although you might not know the reason, you should pull over right away. There may be a problem with your vehicle of which you are unaware.
  • Remain in your vehicle while the officer approaches. Do not attempt to get out of your vehicle or approach the officer. Exiting your vehicle does not assist the officer and may be perceived as a threat.
  • Turn on your interior light if stopped at night. A lit vehicle will reduce the officer’s concern regarding weapons or other possible threats within your reach
  • Keep your hands easily observable, preferably on the steering wheel where the approaching officer can see the. Reaching under your seat or into your glove box are actions that will cause the officer concern that you may be reaching for a weapon.
  • Give your license, registration and proof of insurance to the officer if asked to do so.
  • Answer all questions honestly and be respectful. Touching or threatening a police officer or acting in a disorderly manner could result in your arrest and charges being filed against you.
  • If the officer asks you to step out of your vehicle, do so without any sudden or threatening movement. Give the officer approximately 3-5 feet of personal space as a safety zone to do his or her job.
  • Do not become argumentative, disorderly, or abusive. If you believe that you have been unfairly treated, Do not make that argument on the side of the street. Your best alternative is to carry your protest to city court, or politely ask to speak to the officer’s supervisor
  • In some cases, the officers may ask you for your consent to search your vehicle. You have the right to refuse a consent search.

Safety Is Our Concern - Don't Be Offended
Most citizens already realize that law enforcement is a difficult and dangerous profession. Scores of police officers are killed each year, and hundreds more are injured and assaulted. For these reasons, police officers tend to be extremely cautious. They place a great deal of emphasis on officer safety and survival. Certain safety practices are instilled in our officers from the first day of their careers.

Although the procedures maximize safety for the officer, they may seem standoffish, impolite, or offensive to citizens who may not consider such precautions necessary with them. Even though you have no intention of doing the officer harm, he or she will probably maintain a defensive posture. As far as police officers are concerned, there is no such thing as a routine traffic stop. Every stop has the potential for danger.

Treating Citizens with Respect
Billings Police Officers are trained from day one to keep our community safe and enhance the quality of life for all of us. They are taught to be respectful, professional, and courteous.

Office of Professional Standards
If you feel an officer has acted inappropriately, we want to know. Please contact the Billings Police Department Office of Professional Standards and tell us your concerns. You have the right to file a complaint through that office and will follow up on it. Conversely, we would also welcome commendations of a positive nature.

Traffic Infraction / Criminal Citation Disagreements
A disagreement over the validity of a traffic infraction or criminal citation is not a complaint. Such disagreements should be directed to the proper court having jurisdiction in the matter.