Why do policemen touch a tail light when they pull you over?

Written by S. Arteta and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

People often wonder why police officers touch the tail light of a vehicle when they are pulled over. This practice sprang from the risk that police officers are exposed to when on the road to implement traffic laws.

In general, police officers touch the tail light of the vehicles in order to leave their fingerprints on it. This is to secure proof that the officer did approached the vehicle. In case the officer finds himself in a dangerous situation while pulling over the subject vehicle, fingerprint evidence would prove that he was present in the scene and that evidence will lead investigators to the vehicle and to the owner thereof. This safety precaution has been practiced by police officers in the country for decades.

Another reason for this practice is to provide initial shock or surprise to the person inside the vehicle. This is done in order for the driver of the vehicle or for any passenger inside the vehicle to prevent from hiding malicious or prohibited items, such as guns, ammunition, drugs, and others in the vehicle. The continuous practice of this surprise tactic proved to increase the arrest of intoxicated drivers, sellers of prohibited substances, people found in possession of unlicensed firearms, and other road related offenses.

However, there were instances that proved that the practice of touching the tail light of vehicles put our police officers in a risky situation. This is because this practice exposes the police officers' position making them susceptible to attack.

At present, due to the advent of new technology that aids our law enforcers in the maintenance of peace and order in the society, the practice of touching the tail light of vehicles by police officers was set aside. Also, due to the rampant crimes that happens on the road, our police officers have been exposed to greater danger than in the past decades.

In lieu of this practice, our law enforcers, instead, modernized and adopted innovative technology in implementing traffic rules. Now, we have security cameras installed on almost every corner of the road and on police cars themselves.

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