RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Senate committee approved a bill Wednesday that would add language to the state’s driver’s handbook about what to do during a traffic stop.
House Bill 21 passed unanimously in April but is still awaiting a vote before the full Senate.
The DMV would work with the State Highway Patrol, the NC Sheriff’s Association and the NC Association of Chiefs of Police to “include in the driver license handbook a description of law enforcement procedures during traffic stops and the actions that a motorist should take during a traffic stop, including appropriate interactions with law enforcement officers,” according to the latest version of the bill.
“Sometimes very innocent conduct, you might reach for something underneath your seat, reach for something in the glove compartment, unfortunately, an officer might view that as a threat,” said Sen. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham/Granville), who sponsored a similar bill in the Senate.
Garner Police Chief Brandon Zuidema supports the legislation, noting that drivers “sometimes behind the wheel of the car are nervous, but quite honestly so are the police officers.”
He added, “At two o’clock in the morning, we don’t know who we’ve stopped. And so, we’re a little bit nervous until we can get up and establish that we know who you are.”
McKissick said the goal of the bill is to help reduce potentially violent and deadly encounters between police and citizens.
“It gives us a better chance to get drivers to understand what is and isn’t threatening behavior,” said McKissick.
If the bill passes and is signed into law, it would take effect January 1, 2018.
The ACLU has developed a series of guidelines for drivers, including what rights drivers have. It can be viewed here.