If you drive for any long distance in Turkey, you'll likely come across a police checkpoint. A police car will be parked on the side of the roads, and traffic cones arranged to form a lane for the vehicles being checked. In most cases, as soon as the police learn that you are a foreigner and driving a rental car, they will waive you on. If in doubt about the signal they are giving, pull over anyway to make sure.
Police checks are set up for three main reasons:
- Routine license, registration, and insurance checks
- Drunk driver checks, where drivers must blow into a portable alcohol sensor
- Searches for weapons and certain individuals (more common in Eastern and Southeastern Turkey)
Drunk driver checkpoints are usually located on roads just outside of tourist resorts and in areas near establishments where alcohol is served.
If you are stopped by a police checkpoint, pull over, remain in your car, turn off the engine and roll down your window. If you are stopped at night, turn off your headlights and turn on your interior light. It enables the police to see the interior of the vehicle and puts them more at ease.
It is always a good idea to keep your hands where they can be seen, and not make any sudden moves which might be misinterpreted. Be prepared to show them your passport or residence permit, driving license, car registration, and insurance papers. In rental cars, these documents are normally kept in a small booklet kept under a strap on the driver's side sun visor.
Speed (Radar) Traps
Police also conduct radar operations as a checkpoint. A car, sometimes unmarked, will point a hand-held or dash-mounted radar at approaching traffic and measure their speed. You'll be allowed to drive by, but the radar operator will radio ahead to other policemen who will signal you to pull over.
If you get a ticket, the back of the ticket will tell you where you can pay the fine (typically at a bank or a PTT, or Turkish post office). If you don't pay the ticket within the time specified on the back of the ticket, the fine will double, then double again after more time has passed.