Why Do Cops Touch the Back of a Car? | Why.Do (2023)

You might have wondered why do cops touch the back of a car, after it is pulled over? Is it to see if the paint is dry yet?

We all try to follow traffic rules and that one time when we do a traffic violation, we get pulled over by a cop. If you’ve been unlucky enough to be pulled over by a cop, you may have noticed police officers do something strange, which is tail-light tapping. You might get nervous when a police officer touches your vehicle and takes his own sweet time to write you a ticket. This isn’t a superstitious practice. There is a very good reason and history behind the infamous tail-tapping done by law enforcement officers during a traffic stop.

Why do Cops Touch the Back of A Car?

Why Do Cops Touch the Back of a Car? | Why.Do (1)

Touching the back of the car is a standard procedure, so there is no reason to be concerned if it happens at your next traffic stop. It is done to leave an officer’s fingerprints on the glass. The thumbprints stick fast to glass and can be used to identify the vehicle involved in case the officer become incapacitated. If the safety of the law enforcement officer is compromised by the driver, or the car fled the scene, the police officers track the fingerprint to the perpetrator in question. This practice dates back to the early days when police officers first began patrolling the streets and there were no dash cams.

When police officers conduct a traffic stop, they need to follow various protocols. They have dual responsibility for the safety of the offender as well as the police officer involved. One is to prove that the officer was with that car, so they touch the rear of the vehicle when they approach it. They also need to make sure the trunk of the car is closed.

(Video) During traffic stops cops touch the back of the car so if they're killed ...

They use this tactic to startle the driver. The driver is not expecting the tap on the tail light of the vehicle. This gives the police officer additional time to find out what the driver is hiding.

Can a Police Officer Pull You Over for No Reason?

Why Do Cops Touch the Back of a Car? | Why.Do (2)

Police Officers can’t read minds. They have to ensure everyone’s safety. If they find reasonable suspicion to believe that you were, are, or about to commit a crime or violation, they can pull you over to investigate. But in this age of video cameras, if an officer makes a traffic stop without adequate probable cause, he will be soon out of a job.

It has always been believed that red cars get pulled over most often. A research done by American Auto Insurance tells us we’ve been wrong all this time. White-colored cars get pulled over more than any other colored car! You might not want to get a white-colored call after all, eh?


Can Cops Take Your Car?

Why Do Cops Touch the Back of a Car? | Why.Do (3)

The cops can detain your car if they find any contraband, illegal substances, drugs or violation of the law of the land. If you are not carrying your license, or insurance policy they can take your car as evidence. If they have a suspicion that you are fleeing after committing a crime, they can detain both the vehicle and you.

Why You Should Not Let Cops Touch Your Tail Lights?

Why Do Cops Touch the Back of a Car? | Why.Do (4)

You don’t have a choice in this matter. So, when an officer approaches you, remain calm. A driver getting all worked up about being approached by an officer can raise the level of suspicion of police officers. If you try to stop law enforcement officers from conducting their duty and try to stop them from touching your car by exiting or getting aggressive, you are likely to put yourself in a dangerous situation. Do not try to stop an officer from touching your vehicle at a traffic stop or other police officers to conduct their routine investigation unless you want to be apprehended.

Why Do Cops Ask Where You are Going?

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(Video) Why do cops touch the back of your car?

This is a trick question. Although it seems like an innocent question, it is a critical part of the investigative process. Officers ask this and many other questions to check for intoxicated drivers, nervous attitude and general behavior of the driver of the vehicle.

Suppose an officer pulls over a driver and he is in an inebriated state and if the person says they are coming from brunch, a bar, or a club, you can now expect the cop to be on high alert. This will prove to be detrimental for the driver.

Why Do Cops Ask for Registration?

Why Do Cops Touch the Back of a Car? | Why.Do (6)

Cops have every right to ask for your vehicle registration. The police officer needs your registration paperwork to check whether the car is properly registered by comparing the VIN number of the car, which is used when completing registration. Some criminals steal license plates that they use. By asking to see the registration, the police officer can see if the license plate and the registration they are presented with match, thereby confirming the owner of the car. If the driver’s license is for someone other than the car’s owner, you are probably in for deeper questioning.

What Do Police Use to Stop Cars?

Why Do Cops Touch the Back of a Car? | Why.Do (7)
(Video) 👮‍♀️Why do police officers touch the back of your car? 🚘 #shorts

Mostly police officers get behind the speeding car or the car they want to stop with sirens blazing and blue lights flashing. Police cars are equipped with sirens, loud speakers, and light-bars that either rotate or flash. These devices are used by the officer to get the attention of the suspect and to signal that they are expected to move over to the emergency stopping lane and stop.

This is because Police Officers need to be properly secured in case of an emergency. In the case of traffic stops, the officers pull the patrol vehicle behind the subject vehicle as it stops instead of proceeding past as they would during other emergency responses.

What Are My Rights When Getting Pulled Over?

Why Do Cops Touch the Back of a Car? | Why.Do (8)

It is critical that you remain calm if you are pulled over by the police while driving your car. Pull over to the side of the road as soon as it’s safe to do so, making sure you’re not blocking traffic, and turn off your engine. If you’re the driver, turn on the interior light, open the window partially, and place your hands on the steering wheel. Passengers should keep their hands visible at all times.

Do not make any unexpected moves as the cops are ready to respond if they believe they are in some kind of danger. Keep your hands visible to the officer and offer any relevant documents upon request, but only after they have asked for them. Reaching into your pocket or glove compartment without permission could lead to a confrontation.

(Video) Why Do Cops Touch The Back Of A Car? | Why.Do

If you suspect your rights have been violated, memorize or write down badge or patrol car numbers, as well as witness contact information. It is legal for you to record video in order to do so. Although the legal notion of “qualified immunity” which states that officials can only be held liable for activities that violate “clearly established” federal law, makes it difficult to hold police accountable.

Final Words

Don’t get all worked up when officers approach your vehicle. Getting pulled over is very common. There is absolutely no reason to get yourself in knots if you haven’t committed any crime. The police officers touch the tail light of the car to leave evidence in the form of fingerprints on the vehicle, in the event the driver decides to take off.

A police stop is an anxiety situation for you and for the police officer. You feel you are going to be accused of doing something wrong. The officer doesn’t know if you are going to try and harm them in any way.. The best way to handle this situation is to try to act calm; speak slowly; and not make any sudden movements. So, the next time you’re pulled over and a police officer taps your tail light, don’t freak out! It’s just a simple and standard procedure.


Why Do Cops Touch the Back of a Car? | Why.Do? ›

The gesture is part of a protocol used in the United States, among other countries. The police officer approaches the trunk of the car on the driver's side and places one hand on the back end. By doing so, they ensure that the trunk is closed and that no one will jump out of it.

Why do cops flash their lights but not pull you over? ›

Think of it as a warning. We may do this if your issue is not over the top, or perhaps we are on the way to another call and cannot stop you, but want to warn you. It also could be just saying hi, if we think we know you.

Why do cops ask where you're headed? ›

When a police officer asks where you are coming from, they are looking for evidence to support the possibility that you have or are committing a crime or whether or not you are a threat to public safety. This creates a baseline that they will later write down in a police report.

Why are cops called 12? ›

One common explanation is that the phrase originated from the police radio code system 10-12, which indicates that civilians are present in the area where police officers are patrolling. This system was developed in the 1930s and was designed to help standardize radio communications between police officers.

What does it mean when 2 cops pull someone over? ›

The purpose is to keep everyone safe. It's usually just a second officer being there for backup. It doesn't necessarily mean they've been called as backup. It's police officers looking out for one another, especially in the current climate in which officers are being repeatedly attacked and ambushed.

What does it mean if a cop flashes his high beams at you? ›

If a cop pulls up behind you and continuously flashes his lights at you, he or she is pulling you over, whether or not the siren is on. If a cop pulls up behind you or drives past you and quickly flashes his lights and turns them off, it is probably a courtesy or warning.

What to say when a cop asks how fast you were going? ›

This means when an officer asks you questions such as "do you know why I stopped you," you should respond "no." If the officer asks you "do you know how fast you were going," you should simply answer "yes." Officers are trained to let you incriminate yourself by letting you admit to violations or admit that you were ...

Why do cops look at your eyes? ›

The early onset of nystagmus during the horizontal gaze nystagmus test can be used as evidence that the driver is under the influence of alcohol and may provide probable cause for a DUI arrest.

Why do cops follow you and not pull you over? ›

If police witness a dangerous driving behavior or have reason to suspect that your vehicle was involved in the commission of a crime, they can follow you for miles until they either believe there is enough reasonable suspicion to conduct a stop or to let you drive away.

Why do cops make you follow their finger? ›

The HGN test measures the steadiness of your eyes while you follow an object with your eyes. Officers often use their finger or perhaps a pen for this test because they can easily see your eyes while providing an object for you to follow.

What does 44 mean in cop? ›

10-42Ending Tour of Duty
10-43In Pursuit
10-45Bomb Threat
75 more rows
Sep 26, 2016

Why are cops called five 0? ›

“5-0” (pronounced five-oh) became a popular nickname after the television show Hawaii Five-O which aired from 1968 to 1980. “Five-o” referred to the Hawaiian police force in the show, based on Hawaii being the fiftieth state to join the union.

What does 5 0 mean police? ›

Five-O, an American slang term for law enforcement. Hawaii Five-O (1968 TV series), an American television police drama airing from 1968 to 1980.

What does 4 police cars mean? ›

Answer: If you observe four police cars out on one vehicle, it only makes sense to believe someone has done something really bad, but that's not always the case. Police officers routinely stop and check on the safety of fellow officers during traffic stops.

How do you tell if a real cop is pulling you over? ›

What to Look for When Determining Legitimacy
  1. Vehicle. The first thing to look for when you are being pulled over on the road is the type of vehicle that has its lights and sirens on. ...
  2. Badge or ID. Another thing to look at is the officer's badge or ID. ...
  3. Dispatcher Confirmation.

Can two cops have a relationship? ›

Serious problems arise when police officers in the same supervisory chain become personally and emotionally involved. Personal relationships within police departments can be unethical and can adversely affect the morale of coworkers.

What does it mean when a cop has lights but no siren? ›

If the lights are on but there is no siren, it could be that there is an ongoing crime and officers do not yet wish to alert the perpetrator of their presence. Another possibility is that, though an officer is headed to an emergency, there is no traffic on the road that needs to move out of the way.

Why do cops shine light in eyes? ›

Using a light this way is to see the reaction of the pupils of your eyes to see if you are intoxicated. It also serves to reduce your night vision which would slow your reactions if you were to become combative. It is a safety measure officers use to avoid conflict.

Why do cop lights turn off when I drive by? ›

We are allowed to follow and track a violator or suspect without our lights. We close the distance without our lights on because, well, pursuits. If we light up our move too early, that gives the violator a chance to accelerate and initiate a pursuit before we even really know who we are trying to stop.

How do you question the cop in 12 minutes? ›

When he starts to wake up, he'll be very angry about the situation. If you attempt to question him this way, he'll only give you short, snarky answers back. Instead, you'll have to play dirty. So, stab him with the knife you took from his pockets, and then he'll cooperate.

Can you tell the police you don't answer questions? ›

Anything you say to a law enforcement officer can be used against you and others. Keep in mind that lying to a government official is a crime but remaining silent until you consult with a lawyer is not. Even if you have already answered some questions, you can refuse to answer other questions until you have a lawyer.

What do police say when they catch you? ›

After placing the suspect under arrest, the officer will say something similar to, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”

Why do cops look at your tongue? ›

Believe it or not, police contend they can detect recent drug use based on whether or not a suspect's tongue is green!

How do police officers tell if someone is lying? ›

Incongruent Responses Police Officers Look For

By doing so, they can gauge how a person normally communicates, carries their body, talks with their hand, and uses expressions. Then, they start asking relevant questions and look for changes in those behaviours.

Why do cops stare at you? ›

You resemble someone they are looking for such as a witness, a person of interest, or a suspect. You are doing something suspicious or something illegal. They are looking at someone or something that is near you that has attracted their attention.

How do you react when a cop pulls you over? ›

If you're stopped for questioning
  1. Stay calm. Don't run. ...
  2. Ask if you are free to leave. ...
  3. You have the right to remain silent and cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions. ...
  4. You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may “pat down” your clothing if they suspect a weapon.

Can cops lie to you when they pull you over? ›

Brief Synopsis: The police may lie about the reason for a traffic stop as long as there is truly other legal grounds, based on reasonable suspicion, for making such a stop.

Why do police not turn on the lights? ›

There are very practical reasons. First, they aren't familiar with the house, and they are not going to spend time looking for a switch, a pull cord or a lamp. Secondly, from a strategic point, you don't want to be fully lit up while the suspect is in the dark; advantage-suspect.

What does it mean when a cop holds up 4 fingers? ›

The most common hand signal street cops will use between themselves is displaying four fingers (Code 4) which means they don't need any help.

Can a cop put his hands on you? ›

Would a cop be breaking the law if he came up to you and, for no reason whatsoever, put his hands on you and put you under arrest? Yes, he would be breaking the law. As we learned previously, the Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable “seizures.” So, a cop cannot arrest, or “seize,” you without having a reason.

What happens when you give a cop the middle finger? ›

Cops can't arrest you unless you're under suspicion of a crime, and if all you do is give an officer the middle finger, there's no reason to place you in handcuffs. Because giving the middle finger isn't illegal, a police officer can't arrest you for making the gesture.

What does 10 3 mean in police code? ›

10-3. Stop Transmitting. Stop Transmitting. Clear the Air-Emergency. Stop Transmission.

What does 10 8 mean in police code? ›

Radio Signal Codes — “10 Codes”
Code 0Employee's residenceSanta Cruz Substation (South)
10-8In serviceAuto accident — with injury
10-9Repeat messageAuto accident — fatal
10-10Available for callsDrunk driver
10-15Prisoner in custodyWrecker
36 more rows

What does 10 12 mean in police code? ›

10-12 Visitors are present (be discrete). 10-13 Advise weather and road conditions. 10-14 Citizen holding suspect. 10-15 Prisoner in custody. 10-16 Pick up prisoner.

Why do police say 10 5? ›

10-5 = Relay this information to (name of a person, officer, etc.) 10-36 = What is the correct time of day? 10-42 = End of watch. Mainly, Police departments use the end-of-watch signal when an officer passes away.

What does 12 mean in slang? ›

12 is a slang term for police or any law enforcement officials of uncertain origin. Possible sources include the police radio code "10-12" and the 1968 TV show Adam-12, which followed two Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers and their patrol car, "1-Adam-12."

Does 13 mean cops? ›

Procedure: An officer in distress will transmit Signal 13. This message will be given the highest priority.

When a cop says 10-4? ›

Ten-codes, especially "10-4" (meaning "understood") first reached public recognition in the mid- to late-1950s through the popular television series Highway Patrol, with Broderick Crawford. Crawford would reach into his patrol car to use the microphone to answer a call and precede his response with "10-4".

What does 10 0 mean in police code? ›

10-0 Use Caution. 10-1 Weak Signal. 10-2 Good Signal. 10-3 Stop Transmitting. 10-4 Affirmative.

What is a 5 1 50 police code? ›

What does 5150 mean? 5150 refers to the California law code for the temporary, involuntary psychiatric commitment of individuals who present a danger to themselves or others due to signs of mental illness. It has been more generally applied to people who are considered threateningly unstable or “crazy.”

Why do cops zig zag on freeway? ›

The officer will then zigzag across lanes until he/she has the attention of all the vehicles approaching from behind. This zigzag motion is intended to keep the motorists behind the CHP vehicle.

What do cops call their cars? ›

A police car (also called a police cruiser, police interceptor, patrol car, area car, cop car, prowl car, squad car, radio car, or radio motor patrol) is a ground vehicle used by police and law enforcement for transportation during patrols and responses to calls for service.

What is a pink police car? ›

The purpose behind wrapping this vehicle in pink is to draw attention and encourage regular screenings for the early detection of breast cancer. Wrapix Imaging is a family-owned company specializing in a wide variety of custom-printed graphics. It is also an authorized training and testing center for 3M.

How can you tell if someone is a cop? ›

Unmarked police cars have special plates with numbers only, dark tinting, multiple radio antennas, a push bumper, and there may be out-of-place lights on the grill. An undercover officer often looks oddly well-groomed.

How can you tell if police lights are fake? ›

A police vehicle has to say Police on it somewhere, it has to have a fixed light on top that is at least three inches, and the light must be red or blue or both. Lehner: The car must have lettering on the side. Don't necessarily look for bar lights on top because they may have a bubble light instead.

Who do police officers usually marry? ›

Female police officers are most likely to marry male police officers or female office and administrative-support supervisors.

What is a badge bunny? ›

(US, idiomatic) A woman who is romantically attracted to police officers and who seeks out their companionship.

What is the most common complaint against police? ›

The most common state claims brought against police officers are for false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and use of excessive or unreasonable force.

What does it mean when a police car has flashing lights but no siren? ›

If the lights are on but there is no siren, it could be that there is an ongoing crime and officers do not yet wish to alert the perpetrator of their presence. Another possibility is that, though an officer is headed to an emergency, there is no traffic on the road that needs to move out of the way.

Why do cops follow you but not pull? ›

It doesn't pop right up. They have to wait for a response from dispatch on if the vehicles tags are legit, or the vehicle is stolen, or if the the driver is valid. Along with that if they are following a vehicle that may be possible a drunk driver they are trying to get probable cause to pull it over.

What does it mean when cops only flash blue lights? ›

Most police vehicles primarily use red and blue lights – the red part here signifies that an immediate emergency is taking place, while blue police lights signal that police, and not other first responders, are present.

What are cops looking for when they shine the flashlight in your eyes? ›

Using a light this way is to see the reaction of the pupils of your eyes to see if you are intoxicated. It also serves to reduce your night vision which would slow your reactions if you were to become combative. It is a safety measure officers use to avoid conflict.


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