I was driving down to Melbourne for the long weekend with my partner when we get pulled over by a highway patrol car in Stawell. The officer said it was a random stop and breathalyzed me. It came back clear. He asked for a license and asked a few questions - where do I live/ where am I going/ why? In the meantime, and this part worried me, his partner was checking every corner of my car. It almost felt at this stage as they were looking for something to get me on.
Bit strange but fair enough I suppose. He takes my license back to his car and does some checks. He comes back and checks that my car is an automatic which is a condition of my license - yep all good.
He eventually hands back my license and doesn't really say anything. I ask him if I did anything wrong to which he says as he's walking back to his car "No why", I said well you pulled me over and he says "I can pull over anyone at any time, anywhere" and heads back to his car.
I guess what really concerned me about this interaction was his tone/demeanor - he was very aggressive, and he didn't really explain anything. Interacting with police is intimidating enough but when they seem to have an attitude it really makes you defensive. I don't want to imagine what the experience would have been like if it was just my partner in the car.
It was also quite strange that they singled my car out of all the others on the highway. The cynic in me would say it's because I drive a 20-year-old car - I rarely see nice cars get pulled over for 'random' checks and also because I am growing a beard at the moment, not a nice combination with my middle eastern background.
I did some research and yes police now have the power to pull anyone over at any time without any reason as long as they conduct a breath test.
The incident made me think of a time when I was driving home with a friend and we enter an RBT area. I wasn't drinking so all good and the cop was actually really friendly and had a joke with us about our Halloween costumes. Afterward, my friend remarks that he's surprised they didn't defect my car. Granted my car is old but there's nothing wrong with it and has roadworthy/is regularly serviced etc. His point was more so that the police are a law unto their own and if for some reason they don't like you, there's not much we can do.
For what its worth, I am a big fan of the police. I live in a lower socio-economic area and I see what they have to deal with. They do a great service to the area. My issue is more with the laws, police being able to pull you over for no reason seems excessive. How can we defend ourselves without making things worse?
Would love the community's opinions/experiences.