The last time I was pulled over

It was late last August - just outside of Omak. I was coming back from a wedding in Conconully. After packing up my gear, I went to grab a coffee at the Omak McDonalds drive-through window. In the drive-thru lane, I unknowingly turned off my headlights and didn’t turn them back on for my long drive back home.

Shortly after leaving Omak - an Okanogan deputy pulled me over.

Emergency lights at night


He says he was startled when he saw my unlit car in the dark on HWY 97.

After checking my license and registration - the officer kindly reminded me to turn on my lights and have a safe drive back to Wenatchee.

He and other law enforcement officers have a ritual when conducting a traffic stop. They touch the back of your vehicle. 

Washington State Patrol traffic stop (via Facebook)
Washington State Patrol traffic stop (via Facebook)

So, why does law enforcement seem to casually touch the back of your vehicle when conducting a routine traffic stop? 

There are at least two reasons. 

1 - When a police officer perceives a potentially hazardous situation during a traffic stop, they might tap the rear end of your vehicle on their approach to your window. This action serves to verify that the trunk is securely closed, preventing any potential threat from hiding within and surprising them.


2 - Touching your vehicle will leave behind their fingerprints When approaching your car or truck, the law enforcement officer doesn’t know the traffic stop will end up. When they touch the back of your vehicle before approaching your window - the officer leaves behind evidence to prove that they were there. If the driver then does something drastic - either taking off or harming the officer, the fingerprints on the car will tie this vehicle legally to the crime.

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