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Knowing your rights when being pulled over by the police

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Every year as we enter the festive season, we tend to see anti drink driving messages during advertisement breaks on TV. Historically, figures have shown that the number of drink drivers tends to spike close to Christmas as people get caught up in days of celebrations.

Many local governments often run campaigns to crack down on drink driving at this time of the year, so it’s no surprise that many more motorists are pulled over and checked out in order to keep our roads as safe as possible.

With the chances that you’ll be pulled over by the police higher, Impounded Car Insurance UK are looking at driver’s rights, what you are required to do and when and why the police can seize your car.

When can the police ask you to stop and what are you obliged to do?

Seized cars pulled over by police

The police do not need a specific reason to stop any vehicle. If the police have a suspicion that you are breaking the law in any way, they can signal for you to pull over.

If a police officer requests that you stop, it is important that you do so immediately as soon as it is safe to.

If the police have pulled you over they may ask to see your driver’s license, certificate of insurance and/or your MOT certificate. Understandably, you may not have these documents with you; you may be given notice to take them to a police station within 7 days. This is commonly known as a “producer” and it is against the law if you do not show the documents on time.

The police may pull you over if they spot a fault with your vehicle, such as a faulty or broken brake light. You’ll generally be given 14 days to provide proof that this has been fixed to the police.

As we’ll explain below, the police also have the power to make you take a breath test, issue on the spot fines and even seize your car under certain circumstances.

It’s also important to know that there are other persons authorised to stop vehicles, such as traffic officers and DVLA officers.

When and why would the police make you take a breath test?

Police breath test

Over the past 10 years there have been an average of 7,672 accidents in the UK where the driver of at least one of the involved vehicles had been drink driving.

Understandably the police take drink driving extremely seriously and you will be asked to take a breath test if:

• the police think that you have been drinking alcohol
• you have been involved in an accident and they want to rule out alcohol as a contributing factor
• or if you have committed a traffic offence

Refusing to take a breath test without a reasonable excuse, such as a medical condition preventing you from doing so, is a legal offence and you can be arrested.

Breathalyzer tests give instant results so the police officers will know straight away if you are over the drink drive limit. If you’re not then you may be allowed to leave assuming there are no other offences to deal with.

If your breath tests results indicate that you have had too much to drink you will be taken to the police station for a further test. If the test at the police station also reveals that you are over the limit, you’ll be charged with drink driving.

A drink driving conviction carries heavy penalties and could even result in a prison sentence.

When can the police issue on the spot fines?

Fixed penalty notice

It’s common knowledge that as punishment for certain offences, the police can offer on the spot fines known as a “fixed penalty notice”. These fines are generally dealt for minor or less serious traffic offences, such as:

• minor speeding offences
• using your mobile telephone whilst driving
• careless driving
• not wearing your seat belt

Fixed penalty notices can generally carry a fine of up to £100 and you’ll also often receive penalty points for the offence.

When and why can the police seize my car?

Police banner about crushing cars without impounded car insurance

Under section 165A of the Road Traffic Act 1988, the police are given the power to seize vehicles in certain situations.

The police can seize your car or motorcycle if they deem it is being driven in an alarming manner or a way that causes harassment or distress. Your car may also be seized if you’re driving without a valid driver’s license or if you do not have the proper insurance.

Cars that are left in dangerous places, illegally parked, or have been abandoned can also be seized and impounded by the police.

Having your car impounded can be a very expensive exercise. The police will take your car to a secure compound where it will be stored until you collect it. There is a fee of around £200 to release the car and a daily storage fee to pay too.

The police will not let you collect your car until you have provided proof that you have the required documents, such as a full valid driver’s license and a certificate showing that you have a seized car insurance policy that allows to you drive your car.

Insurance for seized cars usually needs to be arranged through a specialist insurance firm as many providers will not offer impounded car insurance policies. Once you have arranged your seized car insurance cover you’ll be able to collect your vehicle and pay any outstanding fees to the compound staff.

If you need assistance in arranging impounded car insurance, contact us today on 0800 009 6828 or 0161 726 5570!