When out and about in your vehicle, it is possible that you will come across a police or Guardia Civil patrol, whether routinely moving through their area, or at a checkpoint, and it is quite possible that we may get stopped for a variety of reasons, so it is important we know how to act.
We are talking specifically about the actions of the Guardia Civil, but similar will apply with other security bodies.
If you are approaching a checkpoint, you must obey the instructions of the officers. They may ell wave you through, or they may choose to stop you. Sometimes, at these checkpoints, a specific road sign is used, which is a red circle with a black band in the middle. The meaning of this sign is that you must not pass without stopping, unless instructed to pass by the officers.
On the other hand, you may be stopped on the roadside. The Guardia Civil will use flashing red lights if they are behind you to indicate that they want you to stop. They will use white lights if approaching from the front. You must pull your vehicle over as soon as possible, but in a safe and legal place.
Once stopped, switch off the engine, turn on the interior light if you are stopped at night, and make sure that your hands are visible. Do not panic though, just follow the procedure and the instructions of the officers.
The officer will most likely approach your vehicle on the passenger side, the safest side from the traffic flow, and so you should open the passenger window. The officer will explain the reason for stopping you, and will then most likely ask for your documents, which you must present. Again, follow the instructions and requests of the officer, who may ask you to exit the vehicle. If they do, be alert of the traffic around you and act accordingly.
The officers are legally permitted to search your vehicle, if they choose to, looking for illegal items. Do not prevent this search, if the officers deem it necessary. Often, particularly at checkpoints, the officers are looking for specific items.
Once the officer has dealt with the reason for stopping you, which could have just been a routine document check, or could have been because of an infraction, for example, they will most likely allow you to proceed, unless they feel it appropriate to confiscate or impound the vehicle. This is not common in the case of simple stops.
The officers will assist you and guide you back into the flow of traffic, so, again, follow their instructions, as they may stop the main carriageway to allow you to join safely.
Above all, in these circumstances, do not panic, stay calm, listen to and comply with the instructions of the officers, and you will be on your way as soon as possible.