The last (common) thing anyone wants to see when they’re driving is flashing blue and red lights in their rearview mirror. Although many people admit to committing minor traffic infractions with some regularity, including exceeding the speed limit or failing to use turn signals, they don’t expect to end up cited for those minor violations.

Traffic stops can either lead to expensive tickets or may snowball out of control and eventually result in someone’s arrest. It’s normal for people to feel nervous or even panicked as they pull over for a traffic stop. Drivers in Georgia who understand the four concepts below may handle a traffic stop more appropriately.

Drivers should pull over promptly but somewhere safe

One of the most important steps someone can take during a traffic stop is to quickly acknowledge the police officer behind them and pull over onto the shoulder for the stop. However, especially in rural areas or when the driver is female, a motorist may not feel comfortable stopping immediately. They can proceed slowly to a lighted area nearby, like a service station.

Searches are usually optional

In some cases, such as when police officers see something that indicates a crime in progress, like drug paraphernalia, they can conduct a search without a driver’s permission. However, most vehicle searches require either a warrant or the consent of the driver. When it comes to the searches of someone’s physical body, those are usually only an option when an officer has probable cause to suspect the presence of a weapon or intends to take the person into police custody. Otherwise, drivers can generally refuse.

Drivers have the right to remain silent

Officers will ask a lot of questions, and most drivers will answer those questions eagerly. If an officer tries to get someone to implicate themselves, they do have the right to remain silent. While they will have to identify themselves, they don’t have to answer any questions if they feel uncomfortable.

They usually have to sign any ticket issued

Whether or not someone agrees with the citation, they usually have to sign it in the presence of the officer in acknowledgement of its existence or risk arrest. They will, of course, have the option of fighting against that ticket in court later.

Those who know their rights can better avoid making mistakes during a Georgia traffic stop that could put them at a significant disadvantage if they want to later prove their innocence.