Law Criminal law

In India, people have unusual fear when it comes to getting pulled over by cops. The first thought that strikes us up if we ever pass traffic police is, 'What do I do if a police officer pulls me over?' The most important thing is to stay calm and not be paranoid. The police officers are there to ensure road safety. As citizens, we must abide by rules like driving safely, following traffic rules, not succumbing to road rage, and ultimately getting into an affray.

Know these 6 important traffic laws in India before you go out for your next safe ride and avoid any cop catching.

Nevertheless, sometimes we violate traffic rules; it may be over-speeding, jumping red lights, accompanying more than one pillion rider on a motorcycle, etc. According to fundamental duties mentioned in part IVA of the Constitution, such violations are subject to traffic rules and regulations and thus liable for penalties and fines. It is our fundamental duty to conform to provisions in Article 51A. For instance, Article 51A (i) of the Constitution states to refrain from violence. (In this context which emanates from road rage)

Things to remember while getting pulled over by traffic police officers  

  1. Documents to be produced

  2. Rights of the traffic police officer

  3. Rights as a citizen

  4. Other important points

1. Documents to be produced:

When traffic police ask you to produce documents, it includes

  • Driving Licence (DL)
  • Pollution Under Control Certificate (PUC)
  •  Registration Certificate (RC)
  • Insurance Policy Documents

These are primary original documents one must carry while driving. Citizens can also use mParivahan or DigiLocker as a digital repository of their documents; the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways clarified that 'If documents are not available on mParivahan. DigiLocker, then they will not be treated as legally recognized at par with the original documents.'

2. Rights of the Traffic Police Officer:

The Traffic Police can ask you to pull over and produce necessary documents according to section 130(1) of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, which states that The driver of a motor vehicle in any public place shall, on demand by any police officer in uniform, produce his license for examination.

Disobedience to orders obstruction and refusal of information to Police officers can be liable for a fine of five hundred rupees under 179 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988

Police officers can charge you for driving at excessive speed or driving intoxicated under Sections 183 & 185, respectively. In the case of section 185, the Police has the power to arrest without warrant under section 202 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988

The police officers can seize and detain vehicles used without a certificate of registration permit under section 207.

3. Your Rights as Citizens:

If traffic police ask you to produce documents under article 130 of the MVA, you can ask for the identification of the police officer by checking the buckle number or identity card.

On the confiscation of a driving license, you're supposed to get a receipt. Ensure you get a receipt/acknowledgment that your license has been confiscated for so and so reasons. Don't give your documents without getting any valid acknowledgment.

The police officer can't tow your car if you're inside it, and it's illegal to be towed if the driver is sitting inside the car.

You should obtain your Challan or message through e-challan as an acknowledgment of paying the fine. It's necessary to get a challan in hand or digitally as it's a confirmation that the government directly collects your fine.

4. Other important points: 

Apart from the points mentioned above, it's the duty of citizens to be responsible on the road conforming with sections 119, 130, 131, 132, 133 & 134 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, which include duties to take certain precautions at unguarded railway level crossing, to stop in certain cases, to give information on the demand of any police officer authorized and duty of driver in case of accident and injury to a person respectively.

If you receive a traffic violation challan, check whether it mentions your name and details of the court where the trial will be held, details of the violation/offenses, date of trial, name, and address of the alleged offender, name and signature of the officer issuing the Challan, details of documents required.

According to The Indian Motor Vehicle Act, 1932, traffic officers of and above the rank of an assistant sub-inspector are authorized to give away traffic violation challan or notices, which are for spot fines only. Only officers of the rank of ASI (one-star), sub-inspector (two-star), and inspector (three-star) are authorized to collect spot fines. In the case of constant harassment by a police officer, one can file a complaint with his superiors.

What can the Traffic Police Officer do?

If you do not carry any of the said documents, there is a chance that you could find yourself in a pickle. The traffic police have the following right in case you are found guilty or in violation - 

  • Pullover your vehicle

  • Confiscate your license

  • Arrest the offender

  • Impose fine

The police have the right to confiscate your documents or even arrest you if you are found driving under the influence of alcohol. However, the police cannot take your keys before you are found guilty of a violation. In case you are found guilty and your documents are confiscated, do not forget to take a certificate of challan that is to be issued by the police on confiscation. 

What you can do?

As a citizen, you have been conferred with legal rights by our constitution. In this case, they include - 

  • Asking for ID of the inquiring police personnel

  • Refusing to hand over your license. Although section 130 of the MV Act allows police to collect your license, handing it over is completely at your discretion. 

  • Demand for a receipt of your confiscated document.

  • You can file a harassment complaint in case you feel the police are baselessly bothering you.

  • Do not let your vehicle be towed if someone is present in your car or on your bike.

  • The police cannot force you to step out of your vehicle or take your key forcefully. 

  • You can refuse to accept a challan if the issues challan is not from an e-challan generator or a valid challan book issued by the government.

  • You can pay the challan on the spot if the officer issuing the challan is a sub-inspector or at a higher rank.    

What should you do if stopped by the Traffic Police?

There's unreasonable fear associated with police officers, and it's essential to understand the necessity to co-operate with traffic police officers. In the end, they are doing their jobs just like everyone else. Be polite and not arrogant as they don't intend to harass you mainly, but they're doing their work tirelessly only to ensure road safety for everyone.

When pulled over by a police officer briefly, things to do briefly include producing necessary documents, understanding the traffic violation you've committed, and paying the relevant fine instead of bribing the cop and being complicit, which might adversely backfire at you dealing with a corrupted system in the future.


How do check if the challan is not fake?

In the issued challan make sure you check your name, address, offense, details of the trial court, date of your trial court hearing, name and sign of the traffic police, documents to be carried for the trial. 

Can traffic police stop me for no reason?

Yes, the traffic police can ask you to pull over user any suspicion, but cannot fine you if you have all the documents in the right place and are not violating any law. 

Can traffic police take/snatch your vehicle keys without your permission?

The Indian traffic police officer can't take or seize your keys or forcefully take you out of your vehicle and use them as leverage to obtain bribes. Not only it's immoral but grossly illegal.

Who can check my vehicle papers?

Any traffic police can ask for your vehicle papers to run a check and officers over the rank of sub-inspector can fine you for violation. 

Which documents do I have to carry with me while driving?

At any given point, you must carry your driving license, RC, PUC certificate, and insurance papers. 

Is it mandatory to carry an original copy of the license while driving? 

Yes and no. There are two legally accepted ways to furnish your documents to the traffic police, one way is to have original physical hard copies of your documents. The other way is the have your documents on Digilocker, which is a government-accredited app to store digital copies of your documents. As per the recent amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act1988 and the IT Act 2000, RC and driving license stored in DigiLocker is now legally recognized. 


Take receipt of the Challan you pay and remember the aforementioned rights you have as well as the rights of a police officer. Learn from your mistakes and not repeat them next time when you'll drive. Abide by laws as well as traffic rules and regulations. And last but not least, do not lose your temper and become anxious as police officers approach your vehicle. Thus, you can efficaciously deal with such situations as a responsible citizen when a police officer stops you for a traffic violation.

Found this helpful? Head to Rest The Case and more such blogs and learn your rights as a citizen.

Author: Shweta Singh