It is in the news that a fake police car stopped someone while driving, and when they opened their window they were assaulted as part of an attempted car jacking. I have been stopped by the police, and they told me to open the window. However it is not an obvious requirement, as communication is possible through a closed window, and any document exchange could be done by say placing the documents on the windscreen while the officer is not near the vehicle.

If one found oneself in such a situation, would it be legal to refuse to open the window, and to conduct the interview in a way that does not expose oneself to the risk of physical assault?

  • I'd have to look, but I am almost sure I have seen YT videos where the driver only opens the window far enough to answer questions and pass documents. Think letterbox size. Do so if the police car is unmarked and more so if the officer is plain-clothes. Explain the reasons why when challenged. A good police officer would understand.
    – iwarv
    Mar 21, 2022 at 13:06
  • @iwarv A closed window is really hard to smash, but a slightly open one is easy to break.
    – User65535
    Mar 21, 2022 at 13:09
  • 2
    > "A closed window is really hard to smash" There are loads of pocket-sized gadgets available to break car windows on all sides o/t car in case of an accident. Closed or partly open offers no added security from the determined/brazen car-jacker. I know, this information does not help alleviate anxiety, so apologies for that.
    – iwarv
    Mar 21, 2022 at 15:50

1 Answer 1


In general, one must obey lawful orders from a police officer during a traffic stop, or indeed any encounter where the officer is engaged in official police business. An order to open the window, or indeed to get out of the car, is generally lawful.

If one suspects that the "officer" is actually an imposter, or that the officer is a real officer but may use unlawful violence, one is entitled to take some measures of protection. One can use a cell phone to call emergency services and report the incident, asking if the person making the stop is a legitimate officer. This is particularly desirable if the car is unmarked and the person is not in police uniform. One can ask to see a badge or other police ID. One can drive, slowly, to a nearby police station, or to a well-lighted, public place where others are likely to be about. The call to emergency services has the advantage that the call will be officially recorded, and if the person is not an officer, actual officers will probably respond quickly.

It is a good idea to communicate intentions to go to a station or public place so that an actual officer will not think the driver is trying to flee.

Having an in-car video recording setup may also be a good idea.

But once the driver has good reason to believe that the officer is legitimate, instructions to open the window or come out of the car should be obeyed. Failure to obey may itself be a crime, depending on the jurisdiction.

  • 1
    Orders to exit the vehicle and open a window require reasonable suspicion for an arrest to be made. In fact, a traffic stop may only be conducted on reasonable suspicion unless the driver license was issued in-state where one agrees to stop any ways. The first question is identify themselves, what is the reason for the stop, are you under arrest or are you free to go, if under arrest, what is that they purport the cause for the arrest. If you are not under arrest, it may or may not be required to present driver license, registration, proof of liability if visible through windows.
    – kisspuska
    Aug 15, 2022 at 4:05
  • Any chance we could be provided a link or links to the appropriate Highway Code or other regulations?
    – CGCampbell
    Aug 15, 2022 at 12:48
  • @kisspuska To the best of my understanding, an order to roll down the driver's window, or even to leave the vehicle, need not imply that an arrest is being made. An arrest requires probable cause, which is a higher bar than reasonable suspicion Aug 15, 2022 at 14:53

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