If you are stopped by the police on a Georgia road, you will probably feel nervous or even terrified. You might wonder what you did to draw the attention of the officer that is approaching your car. The important thing is to stay in your vehicle and not to panic. The fact is the police cannot even search your vehicle unless they have probable cause to.  If you are not careful, however, you might accidentally give an officer a reason to conduct a search.

FindLaw points out that a police officer is going to be on the watch for any actions that are suspicious. That is why you do not want to do anything that might look like you are hiding something or trying to get rid of an illegal item. For instance, a driver who tosses an object out of an open window may rouse an officer’s suspicion. Also, if you reach down for something, an officer might think you are trying to conceal an item underneath your seat.

You might be familiar with the legal doctrine of “plain view.” If a police officer discovers something that is easily seen through your vehicle window, the officer can check it out. If it is illegal, the officer can take it as well as any other items that the officer runs across. Objects that usually attract an officer’s suspicion include open beer cans or drug paraphernalia.

Also, unless instructed to do so by the police, do not exit your vehicle. Police officers are on alert for anyone who tries to fight them or escape the scene. Even if you try to get out of your vehicle just to chat with the officer, you do not know if the officer senses your good intentions. A sudden departure from your vehicle may escalate the situation. Officers of the law want to be in control of the situation, so let them. If they want you out of the vehicle, they will ask you.

While it might seem like you have to jump through a lot of hoops to handle a police stop, it helps to understand that the police are being cautious for a potentially dangerous situation. So if you sit still, keep your hands in the open, and be polite, you will likely not give a police officer an accidental reason to search your vehicle or to consider you a threat in any way. Keep in mind that this is only general information; do not consider it as legal advice.