Traffic Stops: Know Your Rights
When you’re faced with the often intimidating situation of dealing with the Police, it’s essential that you know your basic rights before you agree or commit yourself to anything.
The police have the power to stop anyone at any time – they don’t need to give you a reason – and failing to stop is a criminal offence.
When pulled over by the police, you may be asked to produce documents including:
• driving licence
• insurance certificate
• vehicle registration document
If you do not produce these documents at the time then you are given seven days to hand them in at your local Police station. Failure to do this will result in further investigation and possibly a court summons.
As the officer approaches your vehicle you should remain seated so you don’t make him nervous or suspicious of you. Remain in your car, switch the interior light on if it’s dark and place your hands on the wheel. Be pleasant to the officer, this way they won’t form a grudge against you and make your ordeal any worse than it has to be.
The Police are permitted to breathalyse you if they believe you are driving under the influence of alcohol, so you cannot complain about it unless you think the officers are treating you unfairly. Officers are allowed to breathalyse you if you smell of alcohol, your driving is erratic or they feel that you’re trying to cover something up. Failure to give a breath test is an offence.
What road offences result in disqualification from driving?
If you get 12 points on your licence within a three year period as a result of multiple offences, your licence will usually be revoked for at least six months.
Drink driving offences will result in mandatory disqualification from driving.
What road offences result in vehicle seizure?
The police have the power to seize a vehicle if it’s being used in an anti-social manner (causing alarm, harassment or distress). This includes inconsiderate driving and unauthorised off-road driving of cars, motorbikes etc.
Police can seize vehicles if drivers don’t have an appropriate licence or insurance.
What road offences result in arrest and imprisonment?
The police can arrest you for any offence if they see fit. Serious road offences may result in imprisonment – such as causing death by dangerous driving.
Who can I complain to if I feel the Police have treated me unfairly?
Victims of alleged misconduct such as rudeness, excessive force, unlawful arrest or abuse of rights by a person serving with the police can make a complaint, as well as witnesses of alleged misconduct.
You can make a complaint by visiting your local police station and asking to see a senior police officer to advise you on how to register a complaint. The senior officer must take your complaint seriously, and there will be an investigation into the officer(s) in question’s conduct.
Alternatively, you can contact the IPCC and ask it to contact the police force on your behalf. Contact it using the information below:
Independent Police Complaints Commission
90 High Holborn
London WC1V 6BH
Tel: 08453 002 002
Had a run in with the Police? Need some advice on your rights? Then come and discuss it here at The AnswerBank.