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The Etiquette of Getting Pulled Over in Michigan

By: Bridget Clerkin November 8, 2017
A Michigan lawmaker would like to codify the behavior expected from drivers when they are pulled over.

Nobody likes to be stopped by the cops, but that’s no reason to have bad manners, according to new legislation being debated in Michigan.

The measure in question would allow state officials to dictate roadside etiquette for drivers pulled over by the police. Should it pass, the policy would let the Secretary of State mandate politesse and require driver education courses to teach the new rules.

Advancing past a unanimous House Transportation Committee earlier this month, the bill will now be up for examination by the full Michigan House of Representatives.

But rather than focusing on common manners, like saying “please” and “thank you,” the law would lay out the type of behavior expected of drivers during a roadside stop, according to its sponsor, Representative Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Township.)

“If a police officer comes up today, there’s all this confrontation,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “If I have my hands at 2 and 10 on the steering wheel, is that okay? How far down should I roll the window? Can I take my seat belt off? Can I jump out of the car? I’m supposed to play by the rules when I get a driver’s license, but what are the rules?”

Better determining and defining of those boundaries, Lucido said, could hopefully defuse future confrontations and ease tensions between police and motorists. And the idea of etiquette is equally important for law enforcement officers, said Lucido’s colleague, Representative Leslie Love, (D-Detroit), who said mutually respectful encounters would be key, especially in an era of heightened racial anxieties.

Indeed, the notion of eliminating legal shades of grey in an area that has seen more blue and black lives recently clashing—sometimes violently—seems an increasingly popular idea nation-wide. Arizona recently amended its driver’s manual to include a section on how to act when getting pulled over, with the express intention of avoiding future deadly police stops, while the Michigan legislation itself is modeled after a similar initiative passed last year in Illinois. 

Still, until common sense and common decency can prevail, it seems the government will continue stepping in to dictate civil decorum, taking us from a Nanny State to a Dear Annie State.

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