The police can stop a vehicle for any reason. If they ask you to stop, you should always pull over. You’re breaking the law if you don’t.
If you’re stopped, once the police stop you they can ask to see your:
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 stop 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.
The police stop you at any time and ask you to take a breath test (‘breathalyse’ you) if:
they think you’ve been drinking
you’ve committed a traffic offence
you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident
If you refuse to take a breath test or fail to supply a sample of breath and don’t have a ‘reasonable excuse’, you can be arrested. A reasonable excuse could be a genuine physical or mental condition stopping you from giving a sample.
The breath test gives a result straight away. If it shows you’re not over the drink-drive limit, you must be allowed to go.
If you fail the breath test, you’ll be taken to a police station and given 2 more breath tests. If they’re positive, you may be charged.
If you fail a breath test you can’t drive your car until you are sober. You can ask someone else to collect your car for you.
Minor motoring offences
The police stop can give you a ‘fixed penalty notice’ for many of the less serious traffic offences. If you get a fixed penalty notice this can result in a fine and/or penalty points on your licence.
If you build up 12 points within 3 years you could be disqualified from driving.
However, for minor offences, the police also have the option of:
taking no action
issuing a warning
offering driver training (in some cases)
If you disagree with a fixed penalty notice
You can choose not to pay the fixed penalty if you believe that it was given unjustly, but you’ll have to argue your case in court.
Making a vehicle stop for a police officer can be very dangerous for the officer and frightening for the person being stopped. Police officers generally follow the same general protocol.