It's a situation you hope you'll never find yourself in but it's crucial you know your rights if you're ever stopped by the police.
On Saturday night, South Yorkshire Police stopped a VW Golf on the M1 near to Meadowhall.
Officers took the car to the compound after finding that the driver only held a provisional driving license with no 'L' plates displayed on the car.
The driver was unsupervised in the car which was also untaxed.
Officers pulled the car over to speak to the driver and, if the driver refused to do so, then he would have been breaking the law.
The police can stop a vehicle for any reason and, if they ask you to stop, you should always pull over when it is safe to do so.
Once you're stopped, the police can ask to see your driving licence, insurance certificate and MOT certificate.
If you don’t have these documents with you, you have seven days to take them to a police station.
However, if you fail to do this after seven days then you will be breaking the law.
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.
What to do during a breath test
These are the three reasons police can stop you and ask you to do a breath test:
- they think you’ve been drinking
- you’ve committed a traffic offence
- you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident
You may also be asked to take a drugs test or a physical test, a 'field impairment test'' if the officer thinks you're under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
You can be arrested if you fail the test.
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 results of the breath test are instantaneous and if you're not over the drink drive limit then you may be allowed to go.
However, 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.
Laws around minor motoring offences
The police can give you a fixed penalty notice for four less serious traffic offences, inclusing:
- 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 £200 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
However, instead of issuing a fixed penalty notice, police can also
-take no action
- issue a warning
- offer driver training
- charge you with an offence
If you feel that the fixed penalty notice was given unfairly and decide not to pay it then you will have to argue your case in court.
Faults with your vehicle
You might have been pulled over for a fault with your vehicle, including a broken brake light.
If so, the police can give you a 'vehicle defect rectification notice'.
You will then have 14 days from this notice to prove to police that you have got your vehicle fixed.
When can police seize your car?
Your vehicle can be seized by police if they think it's being used in a way that causes alarm, harassment or distress.
This could be careless or inconsiderate driving but 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.