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New North Carolina Law Requires School Driver’s Ed Courses to Add Police-Stop Training

This spring, when high school students get behind the wheel for their Driver’s Education classes, they’ll be covering more than the usual lane changes and parallel parking. That’s because last year, the North Carolina legislature passed House Bill 21, mandating that the state’s driver’s ed programs include training on how to behave during a police stop. The new law went into effect on January 1.

The new law amends the state’s driver’s education curriculum to include “Instruction on law enforcement procedures for traffic stops that is developed in consultation with the State Highway Patrol, the North Carolina Sheriff's Association, and the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police. The instruction shall provide a description of the actions that a motorist should take during a traffic stop, including appropriate interactions with law enforcement officers."

Traffic stops are nervous encounters on both sides. Although most stops proceed professionally without overt confrontation, drivers and officers are well aware that stops can escalate quickly and consequences can be deadly. For that reason, it’s important to educate young drivers on the steps they must take to demonstrate compliance and avoid suspicion.

The News & Observer recently posted the essential points of the new driver’s ed curriculum, which include:

  • How to respond to a cruiser’s emergency lights
  • What to do if stopped by an unmarked car that might not be actual law enforcement
  • What steps to take before the officer’s approach
  • How to keep your hands clearly visible
  • What to do if there is a firearm in the vehicle
  • Whether you can use a cellphone during the stop
  • What to do if an officer acts inappropriately

The goal of the law is to enhance safety for the public good. A driver’s behavior during a traffic stop can greatly reduce or exacerbate tensions. Knowing how to act can keep you safe and limit the legal consequences of the stop, as well.

Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban represents clients injured in auto accidents anywhere in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Our attorneys have more than 200 years of combined experience. Call us at (888) 351-1038 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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