Checklist for a traffic control: Six questions and answers on how to behave towards the police – what you should and what you shouldn’t do.
The papers, please!
A police officer is asking you for a traffic control: As a driver, the first reaction is usually a rather queasy feeling: Is the first aid kit complete? Do I have the safety vest with me? And most importantly, my driver’s license? The lawyers from the ADAC, the General German Automobile Club, will give you an overview on what is important in this situation:
Is the police allowed to stop me without a reason?
Yes. If you are asked to stop for a general traffic control, you have to pull over and stop as soon as possible. Please also stop the engine and open your side window. Only get out of the car if the officer requests you to. Please generally keep in mind: Your behavior should be non-threatening to the police at all times. If you are cooperative, the traffic control is usually done very quickly. If the officers are not wearing their uniform, you may ask to see their warrant card.
Is the police allowed to search my vehicle?
They are only allowed to do that, if they have a so called initial suspicion. This could be for example the risk that a crime has been committed. Unusual or striking behavior or a violation of the traffic regulations might lead to a suspicion of alcohol or drug use. The officers generally need the permission of a judge to search a vehicle, however, it is not needed if there is “danger ahead”.
What do I have to show the police?
You have to provide your license and the vehicle documents as well as an identity card or passport for your personal identification. The police is allowed to control your safety triangle and vest as well as the first aid kit. And of course they are also allowed to control the traffic safety of the car, for example by controlling the lights and the tires.
Is the police allowed to go through my mobile device or even confiscate it?
They are only allowed to do that in special cases. For example: If there are indications that the misuse of the phone has led to an accident, the control of the mobile device is allowed. They also need a reasonable suspicion to check the phone for illegal speed camera Apps. Navigation devices and smartphones with such functioning devices can be confiscated – with the permission of a judge. Tip: A phone that is stored inside a bag or the glove box will hardly ever be the reason for a control.
Which questions do I have to answer?
You have to give information on your personal data: Name, address and birth date. Additional questions about where you are coming from, where you going to or if you have consumed alcohol do not have to be answered. You also do not have to reply to any accusations. In this situation it is also helpful to remember: Staying friendly and cooperative will alleviate the situation and will contribute to a quick ending of the control.
Alcohol breath test: Do I need to do it if I have been asked to?
You are not obliged to agree to any alcohol breath test or quick drug test. However, if you refuse, you have to be aware that the police will most probably take you to a hospital for a blood alcohol test.
Text: Petra Zollner Translation: Anica Willmann Foto: Markus Hannich
(Quelle: ADAC Motorwelt, Nutzung mit freundlicher Genehmigung des ADAC e.V., © 2017) Mehr Informationen unter: https://www.adac.de/infotestrat/ratgeber-verkehr