Many of us have faced an embarrassing situation when a cop pulls us over on a hapless day. Some pullovers may 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 license, insurance and 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 the 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.
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 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 jail time too. When you do not stop over 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 an 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 license. You do not have to provide an 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
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 a 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.
- You must immediately pull over when the police signals you to.
- 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.
- Remain calm, polite and comply with the officer even if you feel it is unfair. There is no point in being angry and avoid 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.
- When they ask you to show the documents then you tell them that you need to take them out from the glove compartment.
- 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.
- Don’t lie as they may charge you with obstructing justice.
- Even if you don’t agree to any charges laid, you may fight the tickets later.
- You have a right to refuse a search of your car and call your lawyer.
- Follow the procedure and if you feel anything unfair, note the badge number and police officer’s name. This will come 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 times, 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 rights 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.