Know your rights

Being stopped by the police while driving: your rights

The police can stop a vehicle for any reason. If they ask you to stop, you should always pull over when it’s safe to do so. You’re breaking the law if you don’t.

If you feel it is unsafe to stop when they tell you to it is perfectly legal for you to continue then stop in a safer area, for example if you are travelling on a busy motorway and an officer signals for you to stop on the hard shoulder, as they most often do, you are entitled to continue to the next service station then pull off the motorway and stop.

If you have reason to believe the police car and or its occupants are not official police officers/vehicles you are not obliged to stop you should travel within the speed limit to a crowded area like a service station then stop, if you are able to safely call 101 do so and enquire as to whether or not the car following you is official.

You are not legally obliged to leave your vehicle if an officer asks you, unless he has cautioned you and made it clear he is arresting you, if an officer after stopping you and approaching your car asks you to join him in his car so he might talk to you, you are not obliged to do so, lock your doors, turn your engine off make sure your hand brake is on, wind down your window, a little, be polite and offer the officer the opportunity to discuss what every it is he feels he needs to discuss with you from the safety of your own vehicle, record the conversation on a phone or other appropriate device and explain you are doing so for your own protection, he will be recording you if he has a body camera on.

Always be polite, if he/she gets aggressive and demands you leave your vehicle stay polite and record his/her actions.

If you’re stopped, the police can ask to see your:

  • driving licence
  • insurance certificate
  • MOT certificate

If you don’t have these documents with you, you have 7 days to take them to a police station. You’re breaking the law if you don’t show the requested documents within 7 days.

The police can also give you an on-the-spot fixed penalty notice for many minor offences and make you take a breath test in certain circumstances.

You can also have your vehicle seized if you’re stopped on suspicion of driving without insurance and for some other offences.