What To Do When Your Car Is Stopped By The Police

Getting stopped by the police is never a pleasant experience – even when you know, you haven’t done anything wrong. There are plenty of stories about the arrest of innocent people – or worse. The good news is that these incidents are rare, despite a lot of publicity that might suggest otherwise. That said, what you do when the police pull you over in your car is essential. In this guide, we’re going to go through some of your options.

Car Is Stopped By The Police

Image Credit: Scott Davidson

The basics

Whenever you are stopped and questioned by the police, there are a few basics to remember. It doesn’t matter whether you are in your car or not – the principles are all the same. First of all, be careful what you say, no matter if it’s an accident or a pullover. Officials will use against you in a court of law. Try to avoid getting angry or abusive – it won’t end well. You will always need to show your driver’s license and registration details. But, other than that you don’t need to say anything unless you are under arrest. That said, in some states, you can suffer arrest for not giving your name if you have been properly detained.


As we mentioned above, you have to hand over your license, registration and insurance documents to the police if they ask you. You may get a ticket in certain circumstances, such as speeding or another traffic violation. Make sure you sign it, as if you don’t, it could lead to an arrest and will go against you in court.


Suspected DUIs are one of the most common reasons for police stopping a car. The police officer may ask you to take a breath, blood or urine test. You can refuse it. And, you should, according to the Law Offices of Kevin J. Roach, LLC. You will receive an instant suspension for one year – but you also get a 15-day temporary driving permit. A lawyer might well be able to stop you from losing your license at all.


You don’t have to consent to a search of yourself or your vehicle. If you do consent, it can affect your rights in court. And, you should never prevent an officer of the law as they go about their business. In most cases, an officer will need a warrant – make sure you see it before they proceed. That said, an officer of the law can still search your vehicle without a warrant, as long as they have probable cause.

Keep it shut

Finally, always keep your mouth shut when you are stopped by the police. There have been many tragic incidents of late – far too many for anyone’s liking. And, whether the police officer is at fault or not, they can be volatile situations. Never be a smartass, and always try and be polite, quiet, and reasonable. With so many strange incidents often occurring these days, sometimes it doesn’t take much for an officer to get twitchy. And, given they have a gun and the law behind them, it is asking for trouble if you give them any abuse.

Wilko is a full-time motoring journalist with an obsessive interest in all things automotive.