Why Do Cops Touch The Back Of Your Car?

why do cops touch the back of the car

“Please show your driving license and the car registration?” This is undoubtedly the most common statement; we must have heard it at least once from the cop. But there is one strange yet appealing behavior tendency of cops, i.e., touching the back or tail lights of the car, especially when they pull you over. 

The years-old legacy of touching often makes people wonder, Why Do Police Touch Your Car and Why You Should Not Let Cops Touch Your Tail Lights? There could be two probable reasons for these two questions:

First, though it sounds weird, touching the back of a car ensures that the trunk is properly secured and no one is probably going to jump out of it. And secondly, touching rare parts of the car imprints the fingerprints, which is helpful when the driver flees the scene or the office is in trouble. Touching the back of the car ties both officer and the vehicle together and ensures everyone’s safety. To unlock the third reason, read the article till the end. 

Why Do Police Touch Your Car When Pulled Over?

The long history dates back to when the technology wasn’t efficient enough, and the cameras weren’t installed on the dashboards. Based on the information in the law dictionary, tapping the tail lights inconspicuously acts as evidence that can aid in catching the driver, especially if something happens between the cop and the driver.

The fingerprints on the car will assist the officers in tracking down the missing numbers of the force without the need for solid evidence of a crime. 

Startle The Driver 

Undoubtedly, considered a spooky action for drivers with a car full of drugs and weapons, before the cops come to the front of the window, this surprise of hearing a knock might increase the chances to scramble of hidden incriminating material and result in getting caught up. The sudden startle at the door not only acts as an alarm reaction in the body but also doesn’t provide time for the driver to hide the illegal material inside the car. 

Hence, touching the tail lights activates the startling response as the driver doesn’t expect the noise of the tap to force to stop the vehicle and has to address the office, even if they are trying to flee from the situation. 

This practice has been proven to have the following outcomes:

  • Increasing the arrest of intoxicated drivers
  • Increasing the seller’s arrest dealing with prohibited substances
  • Increasing the arrest found in possession of unlicensed firearms
  • Other road-related offenses

Undoubtedly, it can put the officer in a risky position, but the successful practice can assist in maintaining law and order, as it looks like a personal attack. 

Leaving Evidence

Another reason you should not let cops touch your tail lights is that touching the vehicle leaves fingerprints on the vehicle. Fingerprints are only used when the interaction between the driver and the police officer leads to a criminal investigation, such as a car accident or shooting.

However, this is not always a reliable investigation method, as fingerprints can be smeared, tampered with, or washed away by rain or snow. In most cases, there is a better way for police to get evidence from a car crime scene than a car fingerprint.

To Make Sure The Trunk In Latched

Taping the taillights to ignite startle response leaves a mark on the vehicle, but there is another tactical usage. If a police officer thinks you are in a dangerous situation while stopping you, the police officer might touch the back of your car on the way to your window to ensure the trunk is locked. This tactic prevents anyone from hiding in the trunk and jumping out..

If a cop has a partner, one cop checks the trunk, and the other approaches your window. This is to keep the cop safe and prevent the driver from escaping by hiding something like a gun while the cop is checking the trunk.

What Are My Rights When Getting Pulled Over?

It is essential to stay calm if you are stopped by the police while driving a car. First and forest, park the car aside from the road to be safe and be careful not to block traffic and stop the engine. The driver should switch on the interior lights, partially open the windows and grip the steering wheel. Police officers are ready to respond if they think they are at risk, so do not take unexpected steps. Please provide the relevant documentation, but only after the request. 

Remember: Searching or moving hands towards the pocket or glove compartment without permission or necessary conditions can lead to conflict. Passengers should always have their hands visible. 

If your rights have been infringed, remember to write down the office’s name from their ID card or police car number, along with keeping the witness’s contact details. Recording a video is also considered legal proof in such matters. The legal liability of “qualified immunity” clearly states that even the officers can be held liable for activities violating the “clearly established” federal law. Although blaming the police is a challenging task. 

Do Police Have To Tell You Why They Pull You Over Before Asking For ID?

Generally not. Police do not need to explain why they are stopping you before requesting an ID at a transportation stop, but this is a common practice in many areas. Officers must have a reason for that. There are possible reasons for the outage, but you don’t have to tell them legally. When it comes to court, the offer must state the police reason. If you feel you have been stopped illegally, you have the right to record a video of the encounter.

Do Cops Run Your Plates When They Are Behind You?

Yes, and cops will always run plates when they are behind you. Law enforcement agencies randomly check the license plates of vehicles that they encounter on the road. The random selection of people results in finding stolen cars, and unfortunately, even the people with unpaid warrants. With the advent of technology, almost every police car is equipped with camera technology. The scanning and checking process is automated, and all displayed license plates.


There isn’t any innate desire for cops to touch the shiny and bright-looking objects; behind this, cops have strategically plotted ways to check your trunk to catch murderous surprises, and the distinctive fingerprints on the glass can be used to track vehicle. They will attempt to claim that they never pulled you over in the first place. The law enforcement officer keeps the rack of fingerprints and avoids the car that fled the scene.

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