What to do when you’re pulled over?

Posted on 2016-03-15

 

Being pulled over by a traffic officer can be quite frightening, especially if you don’t know what your rights are or what you should do. Knowing your rights can protect you and it’ll keep you on the right side of the lawi.

Before anything else, it’s of the utmost importance that you remain calm and polite – starting a shouting match with a traffic officer will not do you any favours.

Read through the below scenarios about what to do when you’re pulled over.

Roadblock[i]

What happened?

You’re driving along peacefully and then you are signalled by a traffic officer to pull over or you drive through a roadblock and they ask you to pull to the side of the road.

What now?

  • Don’t drive away.
  • Answer them respectfully.
  • Ask if you can see the officer’s identification or certificate of appointment, to ensure that they really are police. If the officer refuses to produce it, take down their name and vehicle registration number to report to a police station later.
  • If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, you may ask to be taken to the nearest police station. 
  • By law, you are obligated to give your personal details if a uniformed member of the police requests it. This could be your driver’s licence, vehicle licence or ID document.
  • If the officer decides to give you a fine or infringement notice, sign it and do not start a rude or aggressive roadside argument.
  • Don’t bribe the officer. It’s illegal. Remember, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

Driving under the influencei

What happened?

You went to a friend’s house for dinner and you’ve only had one glass of wine, so you decided to drive home.

What now?

  • Don’t drink and drive. Rather call a taxi or an Uber or if you’re the sober friend, stick to non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Be honest if you’ve been drinking. If you’re caught, the lie will count against you.
  • You may not refuse to be breathalysed, but insist on the officer opening the breathalyser in front of you.
  • If you’re over the limit, you’ll have to do a blood test. You’ll be taken to a mobile unit, clinic or hospital.
  • If your doctor can get there in time, you may insist on using your own doctor.
  • Again, insist on them opening all the equipment, such as needles, in front you.
  • If you feel that the necessary health standards aren’t being met, you may refuse your blood to be taken until the situation is rectified.
  • Blood samples are only valid if they’ve been taken within two hours of you being pulled over, so be sure to watch the time.
  • There should always be an officer present.

Unroadworthy cari

What happened?

Your tires are worn, your one brake light is out or your wipers are torn and on your way to get it fixed, you’re pulled over.

What now?

Always ensure that your car is roadworthy. You can find a DIY checklist here.

Officers can ask you to either:

  • only drive your car to your next destination;
  • hand over your vehicle licence disc; or
  • stop driving the car immediately.

-          Don’t challenge the officers as they are within their rights here.

The bribe[ii]

What happened?

You’re pulled over and the officer asks ‘what you can do about the situation’ or says how hungry or thirsty they are.

What now?

  • Don’t bribe the officer. It’s illegal and it breeds more corruption.
  • Tell the officer to give you a ticket.
  • If they don’t want to give you a ticket, ask if they can let you go with a warning.
  • You should report an attempted bribe to your nearest police station or you can SMS the Crime Line on 32211. To report the bribe you need to get the police vehicle number plate, vehicle service number and the officer’s name.

Luckily, when you take out comprehensive car, 4x4, or motorcycle insurance, third party, fire and theft insurance, or buildings or home contents insurance you’ll automatically receive Legal Assist included in your policy. This will entitle you to telephonic legal advice when you are in a pickle. If you’re looking for more comprehensive legal advice, you can always add Budget Legal Cover to your policy. 

The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and do not constitute professional advice.


i. http://www.dsclaw.co.za/news/article/how-act-during-police-traffic-stop

ii. http://www.iol.co.za/motoring/industry-news/what-to-do-when-youre-pulled-over-1415811


View our blog categories