Motor Vehicle Stops

A Message for Motorists
Traffic enforcement is a key component of our law enforcement efforts. It is the principal tool used by our law enforcement officers to increase the safe operation of motor vehicles. This is done through driver education, the issuance of motor vehicle citations or warnings, and the assignment of police officers to locations where violators and road conditions have contributed to accidents.

Unfortunately traffic enforcement sometimes generates hostility towards the officer. It is our goal to make these stops as non-confrontational as possible.

The Falmouth Police Department is committed to the safe and orderly movement of vehicular and pedestrian traffic on the streets of our community. Remember, “obedience to traffic laws saves lives.”

Did You Know?

When driving a motor vehicle you must have a valid driver’s license, current insurance and registration in possession. Without these you could be issued a citation.

  • It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure all the lights and safety equipment are working.
  • The use of seatbelts for all people in the vehicle is mandatory. Failure to “Buckle Up” contributes to more fatalities than any other traffic related behavior
  • Following too closely to a vehicle in front of you is a violation. You should be at least three cars lengths away.
  • Every 30 minutes someone in this country dies in an alcohol related crash.
  • A yellow light means slow down and prepare to stop, not speed up!

Why Police Stop Motor Vehicles

Moving violations are the most common reasons a vehicle is stopped. Some examples include; excessive speed or failure to stop at a stop sign or light.

Registration, inspection stickers or equipment violations are other reasons a vehicle may be stopped. It is not uncommon for an operator to be in violation of the law and not be aware of it. Depending on the circumstances the officer may issue a citation or a warning for the violation.

Criminal investigations often involve searching a motor vehicle in association with a crime. In today’s mobile society, criminals use motor vehicles to facilitate crimes. Your vehicle may match the description of a suspect’s vehicle.

What to do if Stopped
Stop your vehicle as far out of the lane of traffic as possible. Stay in your vehicle for your safety. If you leave your vehicle you subject yourself and the officer to the dangers of traffic.

Turn on the interior light. Keep your hands in view, preferably on the steering wheel. Wait for the officer to request your license, registration and insurance card.

Police officers are trained to ask for identification first, and provide an explanation second. First, provide the paperwork requested. Then, give the officer a chance to explain why you were stopped. Providing your documentation will speed the process. Remember, in most cases, the officer is in uniform, displaying a badge and a name tag. You have the advantage of knowing with whom you are dealing.
You have the right to ask the officer’s name and the reason for the stop.

During the Stop
Why did the officer approach my motor vehicle from the side?
Police officers are trained to minimize their exposure to traffic and, therefore, reduce the likelihood that they will be injured. The second reason is that they are trained to protect themselves tactically. Many police officers have been killed or assaulted by motorists who are wanted for various crimes.

Why did two or three officers show up if it’s only a minor offense?
Officers in the vicinity often back each other up without being requested. This is protocol that maximizes safety for the officers.

Why do officers stay back at their car so long?
The officer is verifying that your driver’s license and registration status is valid. The officer may also be filling out a citation or a warning. This process could take several minutes.

After the Stop
What if I don’t agree with the ticket?
All citizens have the right to appeal a citation before a judge in a courtroom. Follow the directions on the rear of the citation.