With the end of 2017, new laws in North Carolina officially began starting on January 1, 2018. But, are you aware of these new laws, and how do they affect you? As with all things, it is wise to understand the law, as well as your rights. Let us tell you about just a few of the changes that have been made to North Carolina traffic law so that you can be prepared and knowledgeable regarding expectations, rules, and your rights.
One of the more important changes to traffic law comes to regulations regarding traffic stops in North Carolina. First, if you see flashing lights or hear sirens behind you, you need to immediately slow down and pull off to the right side of the road as soon as there is a safe place to do so. If there is not a safe place immediately available, you must slow down to at least 10 mph and put on your hazard lights so that the officer knows that you have seen them and are looking for a safe place to pull over.
Once you have pulled over, all drivers are now instructed to turn off their car engine, roll down the window, and to put both hands on the steering wheel. Do not automatically reach for your registration or anything else. Passengers in the back seat should put their hands on the seat in front of them. If you have a weapon in your car, even if you have a permit for concealed carry, you must disclose that to the officer as soon as they approach the window. Do not reach for the weapon, but tell them exactly where it is.
The officer should be dressed in their uniform, or should show you identification to assure you that they are indeed an officer. If an unmarked car should pull you over and you have any reason to question if the unmarked car is actually a police officer, you can call 911 and tell them your name and location and ask that they verify that it is a true officer pulling you over. The officer should also tell you why you were pulled over, and should ask if there was a reason for your violation (ex: you were hurrying to the hospital and someone in the car is sick).
These changes will now be included in the driver’s handbook and will be taught at in all driver’s education classes. The hope is that these changes will produce safer stops for all involved and allow the police to better help ensure the safety of our roads. If you feel that you have had any problems regarding your traffic law rights, please contact us so that we can help you get the justice you deserve.