What are your rights if you have been stopped by police while driving? Being stopped by the police while driving is often an uneasy experience. This page explains the law for motorists if the police stop you when you are driving a vehicle.
YOUR RIGHTS: Police officers can stop your vehicle for any reason.
You should always slow down and pull over when it is safe to do so. If the police have stopped you while driving they can ask to inspect your:
• Driving Licence
• Insurance Certificate
• MOT Certificate
They can check for faults with your vehicle and then seize it in some cases. The police can also issue a breath test and hand out penalties for motoring offences.
The police will allow you 7 days to take your vehicle documents to the police station if you do not have them with you. Failing to show the requested documents within 7 days of being stopped by the police is breaking the law.
If you got stopped for a minor motoring offence the police can give you an on-the-spot fixed penalty notice. They can also force you to take a breath test in certain situations and circumstances.
The police may stop you if they suspect you are driving without adequate insurance for your vehicle. In this case the legal powers of the police mean they can have your vehicle immediately seized from you.
You are breaking the law if you fail to pull over your vehicle when asked to do so by the police.
There are times when the police can stop you while driving and ask you to provide a breath test.
They can conduct a breathalyzer test and breathalyse you at any time if:
What happens if you refuse to take a breath test or fail to supply a sample of breath? In this case the police can arrest you unless you have a 'reasonable excuse'.
Note: A genuine physical or mental condition which stops you giving a breath sample could be a reasonable excuse.
The police breath test procedure will provide an instant result. In most cases you will be free to go if your breathalyser test shows you are below the legal drink drive limit for alcohol.
In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland the maximum level of alcohol is 35 micrograms for 100 millilitres of breath.
The police will take you to the police station if you fail the breath test. They will give you a final breath test inside the station. You will get charged if your final breath test shows a positive result for excessive alcohol.
If a police officer thinks you may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they can also ask you to:
Failing either of these tests means you can also get arrested. The law does not allow you to drive your car until you are sober. So, if you fail a breath test you may ask someone else to collect your car on your behalf.
Minor motoring offences are those considered to be less serious traffic violations. Even so, the police can give you a 'fixed penalty notice' for:
A Fixed Penalty Notice can get you a fine up to £100 and penalty point endorsements recorded on your driving licence. In some cases you may also get disqualified from driving if you build up 12 points or more within 3 years.
But, the police have some discretion and may also decide to:
If you believe the fixed penalty was an unjust punishment you can choose not to pay it. But you need to argue your case in a UK court of law.
The police can issue a vehicle defect rectification notice if they find faults with your vehicle or there is something wrong with it. Examples of faulty car parts include the brake light, headlight, or trafficator.
First you must get your vehicle fixed. Follow that by providing proof to the police within 14 days that it got fixed and is now in good working order. You can show them a receipt for the work from a car mechanic.
Having being stopped by police while driving you also run the risk of having your vehicle seized. The police can seize it from you if they think it is causing danger, distress, or harassment.
The police can also seize your vehicle if they think it is:
There is a release fee up to £200 and £20 daily storage charge to get a seized vehicle back from the police.
Your Rights If Stopped by Police While Driving; UK Rules Updated 2017