Know Your Rights in a Police Stop

Police car with lights on

Police officers are tasked with maintaining public safety and preserving law and order. Therefore, it can seem daunting when interacting with law enforcement. If you are stopped by police when driving your vehicle, it’s important to fully understand your legal rights and responsibilities and minimise any associated risks or escalation. 

Our expert road traffic lawyers at Neil Kilcoyne and Co have put together this useful guide on knowing your rights in a police stop, to help you.

Stopping a Vehicle Driving on the Road

The police have the authority to stop a vehicle driving on the road for any reason. If you are asked to stop, you should pull over when it is safe to do so, as you will be breaking the law if you don’t. 

There are a few reasons why the police stop you, these include: 

  • You’ve committed a traffic offence, such as drink-driving, careless driving or not wearing a seatbelt. 
  • There is a fault with your vehicle. 
  • They want to check you have the correct documentation allowing you to drive. 
  • They suspect you have stolen property, firearms, or drugs in the vehicle.

Once you have safely pulled over, the police will ask to see your driving license, insurance certificate and MOT certificate. If you don’t have these documents with you, you have 7 days to take them to the police station, otherwise, you will be breaking the law.

Breath Test

The police can stop you in your vehicle and ask you to take a breath test if: 

  • They think you have been drinking. 
  • You have committed a traffic offence.
  • You have been involved in a road traffic accident. 

The police cannot stop you randomly to take a breath test unless they have to have reasonable suspicion. 

If you refuse to take a breath test or fail to supply a breath sample, and don’t have a reasonable excuse, such as a genuine physical or mental condition stopping you from giving a sample, you can be arrested. 

The breath test gives the results right away and if it shows you are not over the drink-drive limit, you will be allowed to go. 

If you fail the breath test, you will be taken to the police station and given a final breath test and if it’s positive, you will be charged. 

Minor Motoring Offences 

The police can stop you and 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 seat belt. 
  • Driving too close to another vehicle.

Sometimes they will take no action, issue a warning or offer you a driver training course to complete. You can choose not to pay the fixed penalty if you believe it was given unjustly, however, you’ll have to argue your case in court. If this is the route you’d like to go down, contact our road traffic solicitors at Neil Kilcoyne & Co, and we can give you advice.

Faults With Your Vehicle

If your vehicle has something wrong with it, for example, a broken brake light, the police will stop you and may give you a ‘vehicle defect rectification notice’. You will need to get your vehicle fixed and provide proof that it’s been fixed. You will have 14 days from the date to do this.

Your Rights if you have Been Stopped By Police

If you find yourself in any of these situations, and you believe your rights have been violated, you can write down the badge or police registration number and obtain witness contact information. 

Contact Our Road Traffic Solicitors in Scotland

If you are in Scotland and need legal advice regarding driving matters, then Neil Kilcoyne & Co. Solicitors can help. Our dedicated road traffic lawyers are rated amongst the best throughout Scotland and are ready to help you. Get in touch today and begin the process of getting you back on the road.


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