Stopped by Traffic Police: Know your Rights

  • Overview

    It is a common phenomenon that is experienced by every other person at least once in their life- WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE STOPPED BY A TRAFFIC POLICE?  It is the job of a police officer to ensure that law and order in a society is maintained. And they are equipped with means and sometimes coercive albeit indispensable powers to ensure the same. The same principle applies to traffic police. The primary duty of a traffic police is to ensure the smooth movement of traffic and deter any rule breaking. However there are times when you are being pulled over by a police for no apparent reason. In that scenario it is pertinent to know what are your rights and what should you do when faced with similar situation.

    Why are you being pulled over?

    A traffic officer can stop a vehicle at any time and for any reason on any articulable suspicion, whether there is apprehension over your driving, suspicion over a traffic infraction or any other crime.

    Powers of a Traffic Officer 

    1. A traffic officer is empowered to demand your driving license and inspect other necessary vehicle documents such as a registration certificate, insurance certificate, valid PUC certificate and a fitness permit. It is pertinent to carry the original documents and produce them when demanded.  Failure on your part might lead to fine or arrest and court proceedings.
    2. He/She may impound your driving license and other vehicle documents if deemed necessary. Such police officer shall give to the person surrendering the license a temporary acknowledgement receipt. Such receipt shall authorise the holder to drive until the license has been returned or until such date specified in the acknowledgement receipt.
    3. A traffic officer is an absolute authority on a road. If he/ she give you instructions, it is your duty to obey them, regardless of the electronic traffic signals.
    4. A police officer is empowered to seize and detain your vehicle if you are driving without your license, permits, and certificates or if your vehicle is not registered.
    5. A police officer in a uniform may arrest you without a warrant if you are found in his/her presence committing offence such as driving dangerously or under influence or using vehicle without authority.

    What to do when you are pulled over? 

    1. You must stop your car when signalled by a traffic police and produce the documents required by the officer; otherwise you are breaking the law if you don’t.
    2. You may ask him the reason for stopping you; however you should not get into an argument. If you feel there is genuine reason behind breaking the rule, explain it to the officer.
    3. If you have committed any mistake explain it to the officer candidly and seek his pardon. He may let you off with a warning if approached with courtesy.
    4. Do not drop names of policemen or influential people.
    5. If the police officer confiscates your driving license, you may compound the offence by paying a fine to the police officer under whose jurisdiction your license was confiscated otherwise you will be provided a notice from the court. In case you fail to appear before the court, an arrest warrant may be issued.
    6. If the police officer is an officer of a rank sub-inspector or above, you may compound the offence on the spot by paying a fine.

    What to do when harrased by a Traffic Officer? 

    1. Never succumb to the illegal demands of a police officer
    2. Allow him to impound your license; do not attempt to bribe the traffic officer.
    3. Note down his buckle number/name, which shall be mentioned on the plate of his shirt. If he does not have one, you may demand his identity card. If he fails to provide his identity card, don’t give him your documents.
    4. You can approach the traffic police with a specific complaint indicating all the particulars about the incident; this must include details about the concerned police officer. It is desirable to send this complaint by registered post.

    Read the complete Kolkata Traffic Police Case Law Guide by LawRato to stay updated about your motor vehicle rights in Kolkata. 


    These guides are not legal advice, nor a substitute for a lawyer

    These articles are provided freely as general guides. While we do our best to make sure these guides are helpful, we do not give any guarantee that they are accurate or appropriate to your situation, or take any responsibility for any loss their use might cause you. Do not rely on information provided here without seeking experienced legal advice first. If in doubt, please always consult a lawyer.

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