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Why Police Stop Motor Vehicles

Massachusetts motor vehicle laws are long and complex.  Most of these laws pertain to the proper operation of your motor vehicle.  Moving violations are the most common reasons a vehicle is stopped.  Some examples include: speeding, failure to stop at red light or stop sign, or failure to drive within marked lanes.


Registration, inspection sticker or equipment violations are other reasons a vehicle may be stopped by an officer.  It is not uncommon for a driver to be in violation without knowing it.  Depending upon the circumstances, officer may issue a citation or a warning for the violation. 


Criminal investigations often involve stopping a motor vehicle in association with a crime.  In todayís movable society, criminals use cars to facilitate crimes.  Your motor vehicle may match the description of a suspectís vehicle.


An officer may also stop you for safety concerns.  You may have a headlight, taillight or a license plate light out, the tires on you vehicle appear to be worn or your windshield wipers may be malfunctioning.  Again, depending upon the circumstances, officers may issue you a citation or a warning for these types of violations.


What To Do If Youíre Stopped

Stop your vehicle as far out of the lane of travel as possible.  Stay in your vehicle for your own safety.  If you leave the vehicle you subject yourself and the officer to 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 and registration.


Police officers will ask for identification first, and provide an explanation second.  First, provide the paperwork requested, and 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 a uniform and is displaying a badge and name tag.  You have the advantage of knowing with whom you are dealing.


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 they will be injured.


Why do officers sit in the police car for so long when writing a ticket?

The officer is verifying that your license is active and valid.  The officer may be filling out a citation and waiting for a response from the Registry Computer.  This process could take several minutes.


After The Stop

What if I donít agree with the ticket?

All citizens have the right to an appeal before a Clerk Magistrate.  Follow the instructions on the back of the citation.  Citations may be appealed to the Orleans District Court, 237 Rock Harbor Rd, Orleans, MA 02653


What if I donít like the officersí demeanor?

An officerís demeanor is difficult characteristic to measure. If you have reason to believe the officer was rude or discourteous, you may file a complaint against the officer. Complaint forms can be obtained at the Truro Police Department or on the On Line Forms page of this website.  The Truro Police department is committed to positive citizensí contacts and proper conduct and will investigate all complaints against its officers.