What to do When Stopped by the Police for a Road Traffic Offence

13 March 2018

Under road traffic law, the police have a general power to stop any vehicle routinely or if they suspect a road traffic offence has been committed. Failure to stop at the earliest opportunity is an offence in the UK.

You may be asked for your driving licence, insurance or MOT certificates. If you do not have these, you will be allowed seven days to present them to the police station. Failure to produce requested documents is also an offence.

If you are stopped, we advise that you make no comments regarding any alleged offence. Offering the police an explanation is highly unlikely to prevent you from being charged or issued with a fixed penalty but may incriminate you or prejudice any defence you may have. This is important if you seek to defend the charge at a later date.

If you have been involved in an accident or are suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, you will likely be asked to participate in a breath test. It is an offence to refuse a breath test, unless you have a reasonable excuse not to do the test. It should be noted that the law here sets a very high bar as to what constitutes a “reasonable excuse”. For example, you do not have the right to consult a solicitor before consenting to a breath test. So for this type of matter, an expert road traffic solicitor should be consulted.

The police can issue fixed penalty notices (FPN) for some relatively minor offences, including speeding, careless driving, driving without insurance or using a mobile phone. Fixed penalties range from three to six penalty points and fines from £100 to £300.

The police will issue these at the roadside, but by taking these you are not accepting you are guilty of any offence, and you are not obliged to take the points and fine if you do not agree with the charge. These can be challenged successfully in court. To do so, you should ignore the offer of a fixed penalty, and once the 28 day period runs out you will usually receive correspondence from the Crown Office with regards to the charge. It is important to note however that you cannot look to pay the FPN but avoid the points. If the fine gets paid, then the offer has been accepted, and your licence is endorsed with the penalty points. You cannot look to challenge the FPN once it has been accepted.

The police may also seize and impound your vehicle if there is an issue with your licence or insurance cover. If there is an issue with insurance cover for example, then the car will not be able to be collected until the police are satisfied there is appropriate cover in place. And for every day the vehicle is impounded, the cost to get it released will increase.

Even if the police pull you over for a routine stop, they DO NOT have the power to routinely search you or your car, unless you are suspected of another crime. If this is the case, they must advise you on what grounds they are doing so, and follow the correct stop and search procedure under the criminal rules. Again, specialist knowledge here will be required. This is a very useful tool in a defence agent's arsenal, as very often a client can secure a successful acquittal where it can be shown the police have failed to carry out the correct procedures.

Call our Road Traffic Lawyers in Scotland, Today

You should seek immediate expert legal advice if you have been stopped by the police and charged or issued with a fixed penalty notice. Paying any fine will constitute an admission of guilt. Our award-winning Road Traffic Team will advise you on all of your options. Even if you admit guilt but are in danger of losing your licence due to the totting up procedure, seek early advice to help save your licence.

We cover all areas of Scotland including Lanarkshire, Strathclyde, Edinburgh, Inverness, Bearsden, Bothwell, Uddingston, Milngavie & Dumfries.

Call our expert Road Traffic Defence Team in Glasgow and Hamilton today on 0141 413 9891 or fill out our online contact form and we will call you back as soon as possible. You can also send us a direct message via Facebook at Scullion LAW Road Traffic Experts.