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HomeDriver's ResourcesWhat to Do When You Get Pulled Over

Many of us have faced an embarrassing situation when a cop pulls us over on a hapless day. Some pullovers can be just a random check while others could be more serious. It could mean you violated a traffic rule or road sign. In either case, you may not like the flashing lights and siren warning you to pull over, and if you are wrong, even worse.

You may have an obligation legally to show the police your driver’s license, insurance vehicle ownership, and identity documents. At the same time, you may have certain rights in such a situation as a responsible motorist. When you are a law-abiding citizen then a routine traffic stop is a simple task for both parties. Quite often if you co-operate and remain polite during an HTA traffic stop then the officer may relent and reduce your fine or not charge. In such a situation more than your rights, your attitude may matter and not help you if you violated it.

Can A Cop Pull You Over For No Reason In Canada?

In Canada, a cop may ask you to pull over for a reason or in the absence of one. They may ask you to stop over to check if you may have consumed any drugs. Or, if they suspect that you committed a crime or violated a traffic rule. The cops may pull you over to check if your car is fit to drive mechanically and if you have a valid license or car insurance.

It is possible that the police may ask you to come out of your car on the roadside for a sobriety or breath test. This is when they notice your erratic driving and doubt that you are impaired. In Ontario, as per the HTA section 216, you must obey the police and stop your car. If not then you may pay a fine of $1000 to $10000. You may also get up to 6 months of jail time too. When you do not stopover for the police and they chase you then you may pay a fine as heavy as up to $25000.

Your Rights When Pulled Over By Police

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has enlisted your individual rights in Canada. These protect you from unreasonable or arbitrary use of power by the police including searches or privacy intrusions. For the same reasons, though driving is a privilege you also have certain rights. You may choose to remain silent if you wish to not answer any questions. And you may not let them search your car if do not wish to. You do have the right to call your lawyer before you agree to anything or give your permission.

Legally the police must have a valid reason to pull you over as per law. If they think that you have broken a law then they may stop you. After you park your car you may provide relevant documents when they ask you to. These include your insurance and registration papers as well as a valid driver’s license. You do not have to provide identity proof but there is no harm in giving one.

Passengers do not have to answer any questions or give any identification documents. You may refuse a search of your vehicle and ask for a search warrant if there is one. Usually, in such a situation you get so bewildered that you just let the officer search and let you go as you have not done anything illegal. You might want to finish the task and get going to your destination.

Step By Step: What To Do When You Get Pulled Over

pulled over

When police pull you over for a traffic stop then your attitude and response may matter a lot on its outcome. For the peace officer too, it is a risky situation as they do not know who is in the vehicle, whether routine traffic could mean much more. In case the police pull you over in Canada then you may face the situation by following these tips.

  1. You must immediately pull over when the police signal you to.
  2. After pulling over you may remain in the car with interior lights turned on. Roll down the windows and keep both hands on your steering wheel.
  3. Remain calm, polite, and comply with the officer even if you feel it is unfair. There is no point in being angry and avoiding any abrupt movements. Don’t fidget with your hands and keep them where the police can see them. If you keep searching in your glove compartment they may suspect you are looking for a weapon.
  4. When they ask you to show the documents then you tell them that you need to take them out from the glove compartment.
  5. If they suspect that you were drinking then you may take a sobriety or breathalyzer test. Or go through a physical sobriety test. You must obey them.
  6. Don’t lie as they may charge you with obstructing justice.
  7. Even if you don’t agree to any charges laid, you may fight the tickets later.
  8. You have a right to refuse a search of your car and call your lawyer.
  9. Follow the procedure and if you feel anything unfair, note the badge number and police officer’s name. This will come in handy in case you decide to complain later.

Can You Record Police In Canada

In Canada, it is not prohibited to record the police. However, as per Section 129 in the Criminal Code, you may not willfully obstruct them while they are executing their duty. Most of the time, you may not be aware of your rights and the police may forbid you to record any procedures or seizures. Actually, the police have no right to privacy in public while they are executing their duty. They may not stop you from filming them or seize your phone or camera. It is not legally allowed to delete any recordings or photos that you shot while they were performing their duty.

34 Comments

  1. Mike Regan 7 September 2019 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    As the driver, am I required to exit my vehicle during a simple traffic stop if demanded by police?

    • Ray 3 March 2020 at 12:21 pm - Reply

      Yes, this is to perform additional checks. But during that time you can refuse a search of your vehicle unless they see things that are plainly in view that require further investigation.

    • Randall Wasson 25 August 2020 at 5:15 pm - Reply

      I was pulled over the other day by RCMP. When asked, he specifically said that I didn’t do anything wrong and he just wanted to see my license and insurance. It was weird because he wasn’t following me. In fact, he was going the other way at night and did a u-turn just to pull me over. My dashcam was running the entire time and I do wonder if he changed his approach once he saw it. He may not have even seen it in the darkness.

  2. Todd 15 March 2020 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Is being pulled over 9 times in 6 months common or is it harassment the first eight times no ticket was issued today there was.

    • J 30 January 2021 at 1:04 am - Reply

      It’s most likely your criminal record shows.. and they have nothing better to do

      • Chris 14 May 2021 at 4:02 pm - Reply

        Can I put my window down 2 inches to communicate with the police? I know if needed that they can make me demonstrate that the windows roll down all the way.

        Thanks,

  3. MARCEL LEBLANC 12 July 2020 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    With the advent of cell phones and dash cams police are being caught more and more often abusing their authority. Is it any wonder people are becoming more aware of police abusing the authority we , as the public, have allowed them to have? New procedures need to be brought in place to stop this type of abuse and for gods sakes do not ever volunteer any information beyond wht you are required to by law. We have rights and freedoms for a reason and police should never abuse those rights.

  4. Brad 12 August 2020 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    If I’m pulled over can I exit my vehicle and stand outside? If they tell me to get back inside am I required to?

    • J 30 January 2021 at 1:06 am - Reply

      Don’t be stupid! .. they have a gun and sometime they react in a different way. Your life could end. Just Like That

  5. Dan Pichie 24 August 2020 at 11:09 am - Reply

    Am I allowed to exit my vehicle at a traffic stop as a driver or a passenger

    • J 30 January 2021 at 1:06 am - Reply

      No :| why would u want to exit anyway? Unless u want to have a gun fight with them

      • Lorie Williams 10 April 2022 at 9:53 pm - Reply

        Is it legal for a cop to pull up next to your car while at a gas station and ask you to get out and search you? No alcohol or drugs were purchased at the gas station.

        • Jetman 14 September 2022 at 7:19 am - Reply

          In order to conduct a search they must prove probable cause. You didn’t indicate if you were in front of a pump or perhaps a variety store attached to the gas station. If you’re just hanging out at a gas station, and that location is known for drug dealing (whether you’re aware of this activity or not) you have put yourself in a “probable cause” location, the officer would be well within his rights to question you, (you can invoke section 13 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) but you legally have to give him your license, registration, and proof of insurance if asked, but you can refuse to answer any questions without a lawyer present. If there is nothing in eyesight of the officer of the interior of your car that would warrant a search, you have the right to ask for a search warrant and/or the right to decline the search.

  6. Bob 8 December 2020 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    What law in Canada laws requires you to roll down you window more than require to pass required license etc…?

  7. Terry Sobkowich 21 December 2020 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    With the new covid restrictions and lockdowns, are the police allowed to ask for identification of a PASSENGER in a vehicle or people leaving a residence to ascertain if they are from the same household to issue fines ?

  8. Jason Barnes 22 January 2021 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    Can the passenger use their phone if an officer pulls a car over?

    • J 30 January 2021 at 1:07 am - Reply

      Lol

    • Rose 12 September 2022 at 5:01 pm - Reply

      Yes, you can use your phone to record police whenever they are in public and on duty. It is always good to have an extra video as proof.

  9. J 30 January 2021 at 1:18 am - Reply

    It was Valentine’s Day like 5 years ago. I went to buy food at a restaurant and supposedly it was school time around 1ish.. I stepped out to my car I sat in my car and started the engine and then I see a cop pulled into the plaza. So he sees me.. and drives to the other exit and I drove to the entrance/exit where he came in from. I did notice them looking at me. Never thought anything about it. So I drove to the exit I seen on my rearview the PIGs turned right and another right like fast.. in my head I’m thinking they going to bust somebody or got a call somewhere .. I drove underneath the bridge which was 3 mins away from the restaurant and I seen him zooooom behind my back and turned on the sirens .. I’m like wtf? U got to be kidding.. so he comes to my car and says I’m pulling you over for Traffic Routine Stop … like WTF? And that’s why they are PIGs.. I pay my Tax Dollars is for them to catch criminals and I get this treatment? .. I was so pissed off and still today I Hate Cops for treating innocent people. Next time they pull one of this shit. I will file a lawsuit! He was so lucky my food was going to get cold and I just wanted to go home. I wish Cops have better things to do .. they found nothing on my I.D and I’m abiding citizen. That Cop that pulled me over. I really Hope he loses his job one day because I ain’t playing anymore

  10. Graham Wellington 8 February 2021 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    >In Canada, a cop may ask you to pull over for a reason or in the absence of one.

    >Legally the police must have a valid reason to pull you over as per law.

    So, which is it?

  11. Norman Luczak 10 April 2021 at 2:50 am - Reply

    Anytime that I am pulled over and their questions go beyond showing your documents, like asking where I am coming from or going too I just say, WITH ALL DUE RESPECT SIR BUT I AM UNDER NO LEGAL OBLIGATION TO PROVIDE WITH THAT INFORMATION and to date I have never had a problem they usually just say fair enough.

  12. Gisele 8 June 2021 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    I was pulled over for going 87 kms in an 80 km zone. Then the cop told me he pulled me over because the expiry sticker wasn’t visible as the undercoat somehow smudged it, unbeknownst to me. Can a cop pull you over for one reason but then issue a ticket for a different one. BTW, he couldn’t legally give me a ticket for 7 kms over.

    • Chris 7 November 2021 at 1:59 am - Reply

      I believe they can issue a ticket/charge for anything they find during the investigation, but it does seem like an excuse when he/she pulled you over for 7km over. Sounds like they were fishing and in the process noticed your smudged tag.

      I had a similar fishing experience when I was told I was pulled over for speeding. I told him, I’m doing a perfect 60 in a 50.

      He said that is technically speeding isn’t it?

      I refused to fall for the trap of admitting that fact and said, you guys give a 10 km leeway because not all speedometers are the same and a person can’t be expected to always keep an exact even pressure on the accelerator AND road almost NEVER have an even grade which will affect my speed.

      He kind of made a face like, he’s got me and said, I’ll do you a favour and let you go.

      GEEZE THANKS OFFICER YOU ARE SO GENEROUS

      • Jetman 14 September 2022 at 7:40 am - Reply

        There is no “legal leeway” when it comes to speeding, even if there was, “speedometers cannot have an error of more than 5 percent (typically expressed as plus/minus 2.5 percent relative to the actual speed) according to federal law.”, which is well below 10 km/h over the limit you claim, when you do the math, it works out to 2.5 km/hr either side of the 80 km/hr indicated speed. Ergo, legally he can give you a ticket for anything over 3km/hr and be within his duties to do so. You can fight this in court by asking the court to have the records pulled for the last time the patrol car speedometer was calibrated and also the last time the radar/lidar gun was calibrated, if these records are out of date, there is a good chance your case will be thrown out for inaccuracies in the equipment used to detect your speed. The posted speed limit is the “maximum” allowed for that stretch of road. Yes people do 90 in an 80 and 120 in a 100, but if the traffic flow is consistent at that speed and no one is driving like a jack ass, the police are more interested in making sure traffic is progressing smoothly and safely. Police are watching for aggressive driving, cell phone use, unsafe operation (weaving, unnecessary braking etc.) or vehicle defect, in rush hour traffic these pose more dangers than everyone doing the same speed. Speeding by yourself on a lone country road is more likely to get you pulled over than with a group on a busy highway.

    • Derek 1 December 2022 at 12:08 am - Reply

      Is one required to physically hand over license and reg ect ect when pulled over? Or can one just show thru the window the required paperwork?

  13. Jakob 5 August 2021 at 1:00 am - Reply

    If I am an American driving my car with an American license plate, and I get pulled over. Is there anything I should or should not do? Do I still have these rights?

    • Jetman 14 September 2022 at 7:55 am - Reply

      You have the same rights as anyone else in Canada, you are subject to all of the same laws as a Canadian citizen while travelling within Canada. You must have valid registration, insurance and drivers license.
      Pull over safely
      Put your car in park/neutral (with park brake)
      Roll down window
      Remain in the vehicle
      Put your hands on the steering wheel
      If it’s dark, you can turn on your inside lights
      If the car is an unmarked police car, and you are not sure it’s legit, the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) have offered this solution,
      Slow down, drive in a safe manner to the nearest well-lit, populated area. If this is not possible, do the following:

      • Lock all doors, pull over safely and leave your car running
      • If you have a cell phone, take it out immediately and in full view of the person who has pulled you over and call 911
      • Calmly give the 911 dispatcher your location and express your concern
      • Ask the dispatcher if they have had any communication with an officer about a stop in your area and ask them to relay your concerns to that officer
      • As they approach, roll your window down an inch or less and ask to see the officer’s badge and warrant card
      • Look for inconsistencies in the officer’s uniform. Uniform police officers wear police service insignia and have strict dress code standards. All officers should be able to provide you with the name of their service and detachment, badge number and rank
      • If you remain uncertain that the person who pulled you over is a police officer, ask him/her if you can proceed to a more populated area. If he/she agrees, tell the 911 dispatcher where you are heading to and proceed.
      You do NOT have to answer any questions without a lawyer, by respectfully telling the officer that you are not legally required to answer him, you are invoking Section 13 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that prevent self incrimination (similar to “pleading the 5th in the US.)
      If the officer asks for your id etc. tell him where it is and make sure you make deliberate moves to retrieve it. (inside pocket, glove box etc.)

  14. Rasta 2 September 2021 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    When being pull over for no reason and the cops says it was my headlight out and it wasn’t. Then he went on to test me for thc because my car had smelled

    • Rob 18 November 2021 at 1:47 pm - Reply

      I was stopped by a sherriff in Alberta for supposedly speeding. Then he proceeded to tell me that I had to take a breathalyzer test. I explained to him that I was on prescription medication that may or may not give false reedings on a breathalyzer test and that i would rather have my blood taken. He denied my request and charged me with failing to give a breath sample and speeding. I was wondering if anyone else in Alberta has had similar problems.

  15. Dan Lacroix 7 February 2022 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    So I was leaving a bar (I don’t drink) and noticed 3 cars hanging around. left drove home stayed at speed obeyed all rules/laws then lights go on. He gets to my car and asks what i’m doing. I replied stopping because ur behind me with lights on. I asked why I’m being stopped he says because he couldn’t read my tags. I asked if they are cleared off, obstructed in any way. Nope was his reply, so I said what’s the matter then. how can I help. Nothing once you stopped I was able to read ur tag so ur good. No thanks. officer is like why not. Well since 3 of you have nothing better to do then i’ll wait here for a supervisor and see if what goes on from here. Officer, have a good night.

  16. Danny 1 April 2022 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    When pulled over if you do not have your documents on you ; do you have any amount of time to produce them say 24 hours or does it have to be then and there and you get ticketed for not having the documents on hand

  17. Rick 26 May 2022 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Was pulled over the other day on the 401. I was doing 116 kmh. He said the reason he pulled me over is because my drivers license is expired. My sticker is good for another year. Why did he run my plates in the first place? He said nothing about speeding and my car is only 4 years old.

  18. J . Cooper 3 June 2022 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    When pulled up by the police I roll down my window 2 Inches I was told to roll it down more but I said I can’t hear you so the cop just open my door is that legal for the police just to open your vehicle door

  19. Sandra 5 October 2022 at 8:43 am - Reply

    I saw and heard lights right behind me . It was night time. I panicked and decided to make a left hand turn at the lights and stop . I was afraid of crossing the right lane as I couldn’t see behind the unmarked pickup truck.
    Can I fight the 450 dollar fine?

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