You’re driving down the road, you see a police car in your rear view mirror and you get that traditional feeling of ‘Oh my god, the fuzz are behind me and they’ll pull me over for the smallest indiscretion’. Don’t worry – we won’t, but we might decide to exercise our powers under S. 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 which grants us the ability to pull a motorist over for the purpose of a document check.
This is a position many motorists will find themselves in and doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve done anything wrong, only that for whatever reason an officer has decided that a quick peek at their driving documents would be a good idea.
Assuming that a motorist has with them at the time of the stop both parts of their driving licence (photo card and paper counterpart), their MOT certificate, insurance cover note and that all of these items are in order, the motorist is soon off on his or her jolly way.
An inability to display any of these documents at the roadside, however, means that a police officer is likely to issue to the motorist a catchily titled ‘HORT/1′ form, otherwise known as a producer.
The producer is a short receipt documenting the conditions of the stop e.g. who was driving what vehicle and at what time and makes a request to that driver to produce the specified documents to a police station for inspection within seven days from midnight on the date of issue.
The law states that motorists should carry their necessary documentation with them, although oddly it recognises that most people will not actually do this and so includes a proviso that no one will be prosecuted for being caught not carrying their documents if they produce them to a police station within the above given period.
Having taken the requested documents to a police station, the staff at the front desk will record the information given and providing that all is in order, no further action is taken. If a motorist brings in documents showing he or she was acting outside the law driving a particular vehicle, action is taken accordingly as it is if a person doesn’t fancy bringing in their documents at all.
Beyond issuing the producer, if an officer is being thorough he or she may also ‘report’ the motorist for not producing his documents. This means that the motorist is formally called to court to answer the charge, although this request is voided by the motorist producing the documents at a station within seven days. The reporting process involves the issue of a caution which can sound worrying like you are being arrested but not to worry, you aren’t and hopefully the officer dealing will explain the process to you.
The receipt of a producer is not an uncommon outcome of traffic stops and nor should it be something that causes any worry. We’re obviously keen that people’s driving documents are in order as if they aren’t the dangers are obvious – people without proper licenses or insurance can and do cause havoc and we’re keen to do everything we are able to stop them.
With the majority of producers the motorist brings in their documents which are fine and we then enter the results into our sophisticated filing system to be forgotten about. We’d not want you to go away from a traffic stop unsure about the next steps and if you do have questions, please ask. We don’t bite!