The police can stop a vehicle for any reason. If they ask you to stop, you should always pull over when it’s safe to do so.You’re breaking the law if you don’t.
If you’re stopped, the police 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 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 can 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 may be allowed to go.
If you fail the breath test, you’ll be taken to a police station and given a final breath test. If it’s positive, you will be charged.
If the officer thinks you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they can ask you to:
take a drug test
do a physical test (a ‘field impairment test’), eg walk in a straight line then turn around and walk back
You can be arrested if you fail the test.
If you fail a breath test you can’t drive your car until you’re sober. You can ask someone else to collect your car for you.
- careless or inconsiderate driving
- using a mobile phone while driving
- not wearing a seat belt
- driving too close to another vehicle
You can be fined up to £100 and get penalty points on your licence if you get a fixed penalty notice – you may be disqualified from driving if you build up 12 points within 3 years.
The police can also decide to:
- take no action
- issue a warning
- offer driver training
- charge you with an offence
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.
Faults with your vehicle
If your vehicle has something wrong with it, eg a broken brake light, the police may give you a ‘vehicle defect rectification notice’.
You’ll need to get your vehicle fixed and provide proof that it’s been fixed (eg a receipt for the work from a mechanic). You have 14 days from the date of the notice to show the proof to the police.
When the police can seize your vehicle
The police can seize a vehicle if they think it’s being used in a way that causes alarm, harassment or distress (eg careless or inconsiderate driving).
They can also seize a vehicle if they think it’s:
- 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 there’s a ‘release fee’ of up to £200 plus a storage fee of £20 for every day or part day.