Tonasket Cops' Corner

What cops look for when you’ve been stopped

Traffic stops are by far the most dangerous part of a law officer’s job (outside of calls for domestic violence). There is a constant level of unpredictability in any traffic stop, especially at night.

You may know you are a safe driver and good person in general, yet we do not know this. Do not get out of your vehicle unless asked to; simply wait for the officer to approach you.

With a variety of officers in the area and the vast amount of traffic violations for us to watch for, here is a list of a few points your local police of Tonasket want you to be informed of :

Be Prepared

When you are stopped for any traffic reason you will be asked for some identifiers that are pretty consistent from city police to state patrol to county deputies. Always be prepared to show your :

1. Valid driver’s license

2. The vehicle registration

3. Proof of liability insurance (the state minimum).

Please have these items where you can find them quickly and easily.

Get rid of old copies that are expired. Having 16 old registrations clogging up your glove box makes finding the current one more difficult. Keep your insurance card with your registration in your car, not in your wallet.

The law states you are required to show proof of insurance upon request. If you’ve forgotten your wallet at home it is possible for us to run your license information; it is not possible for us to verify your insurance coverage. Have your registration signed. It is not a legal document unless it is signed. You can be cited for not signing it. A simple signature missing isn’t worth the $124 ticket.

Keeping your hands on the steering wheel or where we can see them makes for a calmer situation. Please reach for your paperwork once you are asked or after we are at your door.

Wireless Devices

RCW 46.61.667 is the Washington State law that refers to it being illegal to talk on a wireless device while driving (unless hands-free). If you read the law (google RCW’s) you will see that any and all authorized emergency motor vehicle driver’s are exempt from the law. This includes police officers, fire fighters, ambulance. We are usually staying in close contact with other law officials, hospitals, dispatchers, victims, crime scene reporters….etc. You will see in our vehicles such things as a computer, dispatch radio, radar devices, cell phone and notebooks. We are specifically trained to utilize all of these devices, sometimes all at once!

Driving With Pets

RCW 46.61.615 is the Washington State law referring to obstruction of driver’s view or interference with his/her control over the vehicle. This RCW also references driving with an animal on your lap. Many people find it completely innocent to drive with their dog riding on their lap. This is very dangerous for the dog, the driver and any other person who could be a victim of a collision due to the obstruction of control. If you are involved in an accident and the air bag goes off it could kill your pet and cause serious bodily injury to you due to your pet being pushed into you violently. A dog on your lap is dangerous and against the law. Please teach your pet to ride on the passenger seat or in the back seat for your and their safety.


RCW 46.61.570 and 575 are the Washington State laws referring to illegal and unsafe parking. There are many definitions and parameters of illegal parking yet the one being referred to here is parking the wrong direction on the street. It is a requirement of the law that your vehicle be parked the “direction of flow of traffic”. It only takes a moment to turn your vehicle around so you are parked legally and safely. RCW 46.61.300 refers to moving your vehicle from an unsafe parking spot. So, pulling out from being parked the wrong direction is a safety issue that could cause a collision easily. Illegal parking could result in two infractions (tickets), but a moment in time to park your vehicle the legal direction will avoid a ticket and a possible collision.

Please feel free to ask your local officers, troopers and/or deputies questions. If you are aware of the laws or the reasons for why we do what we do, what we look for and the reasons behind it all, you’ll be a safer, more well-informed driver. Passing the knowledge along will result in less collisions, less traffic stops and a better connected community.

Brought to you by your local Tonasket Police Department. Be safe !


What cops look for when you’ve been stopped