1. ITV Report

Pulled over by police? What are your rights?

Police can stop a vehicle for any reason Photo: PA Images

After a driver was pulled over by bogus police officers in Plymouth, police across Devon and Cornwall are reminding people to be cautious.


Police can stop you for any reason, if signaled you must pull over.

Don't panic, make sure you wait until you approach a suitable place to safely pull over.

The police will make it obvious they want you to stop by:

  • flashing their blue lights or headlights
  • beeping the horn
  • pointing to the left to tell you that you need to pull over

Remain calm, just because you've been stopped it does not mean you've done something wrong.

Once you've stopped, stay in the car with the engine turned off. You shouldn't get out unless the police officer tells you to do so.

You are within your rights to ask the police officer for identification.

Producing Documentation

Police can ask you for:

  • your driving license
  • your insurance certificate
  • your MOT certificate

If you don't have them with you don't worry. But you must present them at a police station within 7 days. If you fail to do so, you are breaking the law.

Breath Tests

Once stopped police may ask you to take a breath test.

Police can 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 be tested and don’t have a ‘reasonable excuse’, you can be arrested. A reasonable excuse might be a physical condition that means you're unable to give a sample.

If the test shows you're over the drink-drive limit you’ll be taken to a police station and given another breath test. If it’s positive, you will be charged.

If you are not over the limit you will be free to go.

Fixed Penalty Notices

When police stop you, they can give you a ‘fixed penalty notice’ for less serious traffic offences.

These include:

  • careless or inconsiderate driving
  • using a mobile phone while driving
  • not wearing a seatbelt
  • driving too close to another vehicle

If you get a fixed penalty notice, you may be fined up to £100 and get penalty points on your licence.

Seized Vehicles

If there is something wrong with your vehicle (a broken light for example) you may be given a ‘vehicle defect rectification notice’.

You must get your vehicle fixed and show proof to the police within 14 days.

Police can seize a vehicle if they think it’s:

  • being used in a way that's causing alarm, harassment or distress
  • being driven by someone who doesn’t have a proper licence or insurance
  • dangerously, illegally or obstructively parked
  • broken-down or abandoned

If your vehicle is seized you may have to pay a ‘release fee’ of up to £200 plus a storage fee of £20 for every day.

For more information and advice visit the UK Government website.