Ever been stopped by the traffic police in India? Suddenly a wave of paranoia hit us inducing crippling anxiety and nervousness.
There is a self-validated perception in the masses which portrays the traffic cops in our country as villains or someone who are against us our freedom. While all they are trying to do is protect your life basically and avoid any untoward accidents. Now since they’re doing their job maybe you should do a bit of homework yourself too.
Instead of pleading, crying or handing over your phone to the traffic cop at the checkpost you should realise that you might have done something wrong, deliberately or unknowingly. Well, the least you can do is be aware of the rights you have when a traffic cop has stopped you.
What are the documents required at a traffic stop?
In case traffic police in India stops you then he or she can ask you for your license while it is advised to keep all the documents in your car. Also, it is mandatory to keep original copies of all the documents in your car. Here is the list of the documents that you should have in your car at all times:
- Registration Certificate (RC)
- Pollution Under Control (PUC) Certificate
- Driving License (DL)
- Car insurance policy document
What rights do traffic officers have?
- A traffic policeman has the right to ask you to pull over to check your documents or in case of any suspicion
- The cop has the authority to seize your vehicle in case of a traffic violation such as speeding over the limit, jumping the red light etc.
- A traffic police officer has the right to confiscate your license based upon any sort of suspicion. She/he has to provide you with an acknowledgement.
- A traffic police officer has the authority to arrest you without a warrant if you’re found out to be under the influence of a banned drug or substance or alcohol.
What are my rights when stopped by a traffic police officer?
- Ask for identification: You can always ask a traffic cop who pulls you over to present his or her identity to you. You can note down their buckle number or name and if the buckle is still not there, ask them for their ID card. If the traffic cop refuses to present their identity to you, you can refuse them to produce your documents.
- Present your driving license: According to Section 130 of the Motor Vehicles Act when a police officer asks you for the documents, you only need to present your license at that moment. The choice of handing over the rest of the documents is completely at your own will.
- Receipt against the confiscation of driving license: If the police officer decides to confiscate your license, then make sure that you’re being handed over a valid receipt issued by the Traffic Police Department against your license.
- Cannot tow the car with a person inside: The Traffic Police cannot tow your car away if a human being is sitting inside the car. As long as someone is sitting inside the car, it cannot be towed away.
- File a complaint in case of harassment: In case you feel that you were not treated properly by the traffic cop or were being harassed then you can file an online complaint about the incident online or at your nearest police station, explaining about the incident.
- Challan book or an e-challan generator: A traffic police can only issue challans when they’re carrying a government-issued challan book or E-challan machine with them.
- On the spot fine and payment: In case the police officer at the scene of the incident is of the rank of sub-inspector or above you can pay off the challan at the spot.
- Cannot force you out of the vehicle: A police officer can never force you to get out of the vehicle or take your keys off the ignition forcefully.
What should you check if you receive a traffic violation challan?
- In case the traffic police issues you a challan or prosecution slip you have to make sure that it contains the following details:
- Name and details of the court where the trial will be held
- Details of the offence/violation(s)
- Date of trial
- Name and address of the alleged offender
- Name and signature of the officer issuing the challan
- Details of documents required
What are the things to avoid when stopped by the traffic police
IF and when you’re stopped by the traffic police, just try to be a good citizen rather than be all unruly and rude at the scene of the incident. Do make sure that you –
- Be cool, calm and composed: Make sure that if you’re ever asked to pull over then you pull over, remain in your car, turn the ignition off and roll down your windows to talk to the police officer.
- Be polite and respectful: Remember that they are humans as well. Standing in the heat, rain and chilly winters on the roads isn’t an easy task. So, respect that fact and try to be polite and a bit more welcoming. You might even be left with a warning if its not that grave of an offence.
- Don’t be nervous or agitated: Try to explain to the officer what really happened and apologize for any misunderstandings if required.
- Adhere to the rules: If there’s a rule it had to be followed, no exceptions. Make sure you try to look at it with this perspective.
Can traffic police stop you for no reason in India?
Well, yes. A traffic officer’s main job is to ensure safety on the road and to make sure that every vehicle that plies on the road is following the rules. A traffic police officer can stop you for any reason on the grounds of suspicious driving, over a traffic infraction or any other crime.
Can a traffic police officer take your car keys away?
As stated in the Motor Vehicles Act 1932, it is illegal for a Traffic cop to take away your car keys forcefully. No police officer, irrespective of his or her rank or authority can indulge in this sort of action.
Are DigiLocker uploaded car documents valid in India?
According to a notice issued by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highway it is legal to carry your documents electronically and has to be accepted as a legal form of documentation.
The ministry has written to all the state transport department in a circular dated 17.12.18 to treat electronic copies of driving license and other required documents on the Digilocker or mParivahan app as valid and/or at par with the original.
Note: A document is considered to be legally accepted and valid only if they’re stored and presented in the DigiLocker App or mParivahan App. Any other form of photograph clicked on your mobile phone can still land you in trouble.12