What Happens When an Officer Stops Me?

Officers maintain the ability to detain individuals in certain circumstances. These powers infringe on the liberty of the individual. There must be a balance between the interests of the individual to be free from intrusions of the state against the state’s interest in pursuing credible tips for maintaining peace and order. The Charter protects the individual’s rights against arbitrary detention (s. 9).

What if I am Stopped by the Police?

First and foremost, when an officer signals for you to pull over, only pull over when you can safely do so. Officers will first ask for; your driver’s licence, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. Be polite and comply with their requests. Getting frustrated with the officer may only prolong the interaction and may result in additional tickets and/or being arrested. Police officers can stop you when

Criminal defense lawyer

1. They suspect you are involved in a crime

2. They see you committing a crime

3. When driving, officers in the lawful execution of their duties can conduct routine stops

If the officer does not have grounds to arrest or detain you they must let you go. If you are ever unsure as to what is going on, you have the right to ask the officer “Am I under arrest?” or “Am I free to go?”.

 When an Officer Asks Me Questions, Do I Have to Comply?

Officers are allowed to ask you questions. However, you are under no obligation to answer those questions. There are exceptions to this general rule. In every interaction with the police, it is a good practice to be polite.

If you are arrested or detained, police are under a legal obligation to tell you that you are being detained and that you have the right to speak with a lawyer. They will facilitate the call with your lawyer, and if you do not have one, a free Legal Aid lawyer will be able to speak with you. Remember, anything you tell the police may be used as evidence against you in court. When arrested it is best to speak with a criminal defense lawyer who will advise you of your rights before being interviewed by the police.

When Can an Officer Stop Me While I’m Driving?

When driving, officers are allowed to perform routine stops when lawfully executing their duties. They can stop you;

a. When they see you committing a traffic offence

   – Example; running a red light, speeding, failing to stop at a stop sign

b. Where they suspect you are involved in a crime

Example; where they get a tip about an impaired driver or a tip about a vehicle seen leaving the scene of a crime

c. Where they are conducting a routine check such as;

   – Conducting a sobriety check, checking the condition of the car or your licence

The Supreme Court of Canada has held that while routine stops are a violation of section 9 of the Charter, this violation is justified under section 1, due to the need to promote road safety (R. v. Ladouceur, [1990] 1 SCR 1257). When driving, if an officer pulls you over and asks you for your licence, vehicle registration and insurance, you must comply and produce these documents. Failure to provide an officer with these documents is an offence in and of itself.

What if the Officer Suspects I am Impaired?

Officers can request you provide a breath sample at the roadside into an Approved Screening Device (ASD). They do not need to give you a reason for demanding this breath sample.