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HomeDriver's ResourcesWhat to Do When You Get Pulled Over in Canada

If you get pulled over by a police officer in Canada, it’s important to know what to do to ensure a safe and smooth interaction. Here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Pull over safely: When you see the police car behind you with its lights on, safely pull over to the side of the road. Make sure to signal and come to a complete stop.
  2. Remain calm: Take a deep breath and try to stay calm. Being pulled over can be a stressful experience, but it’s important to stay calm and composed.
  3. Turn off your engine: Turn off your engine and roll down your window.
  4. Follow the officer’s instructions: Wait for the officer to approach your vehicle and follow their instructions. If they ask you to step out of the car, do so. If they ask for your license, registration, and proof of insurance, provide them. If they ask you questions, answer them truthfully and politely.
  5. Don’t admit guilt: It’s important to remember that you have the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. If the officer accuses you of breaking the law, you can deny the accusation and wait for a lawyer if necessary.
  6. Be respectful: Be respectful and courteous to the officer, even if you disagree with their actions. Raising your voice, being confrontational, or making threats can escalate the situation and result in additional charges.
  7. Take note of the officer’s name and badge number: If you feel that the officer has treated you unfairly, you can file a complaint later. Take note of the officer’s name and badge number for reference.
  8. Get a ticket or warning: Depending on the reason for the stop, the officer may give you a ticket or warning. If you receive a ticket, you can contest it in court if you believe it was issued in error.

It’s important to keep in mind that different provinces and territories in Canada may have different laws and procedures, so it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the specific rules in your area.

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

In Canada, police officers have the power to stop and detain individuals if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that an individual has committed, is about to commit, or is in the commission of an offense. This means that an officer cannot pull you over without a reason.

However, in some cases, an officer may stop you for a routine check or to verify your sobriety. For example, an officer may pull you over for a routine traffic stop to check that you have a valid driver’s license, registration, and insurance, or to conduct a sobriety test if they suspect you’re driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

It’s important to remember that even if an officer stops you for a routine check, they still need to have a legitimate reason for doing so. If you believe that an officer has stopped you without a valid reason, you can file a complaint with the relevant authorities.

In general, it’s always a good idea to cooperate with the police, follow their instructions, and provide the necessary documentation. However, if you feel that an officer is treating you unfairly, you can seek legal advice or file a complaint with the appropriate authorities.

Your Rights When Pulled Over By Police

legal

As a Canadian citizen, you have certain rights when pulled over by the police. Here are some of the key rights you should be aware of:

  1. Right to remain silent: You have the right to remain silent and not answer any questions that the police ask you. You are not required to answer questions about where you’re coming from, where you’re going, or what you’ve been doing.
  2. Right to legal representation: You have the right to speak to a lawyer before answering any questions. If you can’t afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you.
  3. Right to ask for identification: You have the right to ask the police officer to show you their identification and badge number.
  4. Right to be informed of the reason for being stopped: You have the right to ask the police officer why you are being stopped.
  5. Right to privacy: The police officer cannot search you or your vehicle without a warrant or your consent. However, they may conduct a pat-down search for weapons if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that you are armed.
  6. Right to record the interaction: In most cases, you have the right to record the interaction with the police officer as long as you do not interfere with their duties.

It’s important to remember that while you have these rights, it’s always a good idea to be respectful and cooperative with the police. If you feel that your rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with the appropriate authorities or seek legal advice.

Can You Record Police In Canada

In Canada, it is generally legal to record police officers during a pullover, as long as you are not interfering with their duties. However, as I mentioned earlier, you should be aware of the specific rules and limitations around recording police in your province or territory.

If you do decide to record a police officer during a pullover, it’s important to be respectful and non-threatening, and to avoid interfering with the officer’s work. You should also be aware that some police officers may not want to be recorded, and it’s possible that they may ask you to stop or try to take your recording device away.

It’s always a good idea to be prepared and know your rights before recording a police interaction, and to be aware of any potential consequences that may arise from doing so.

What to do (and not to do) when you’re pulled over

Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind if you are pulled over by the police:

Dos:

  • Pull over safely and as quickly as possible. If you’re not sure where to stop, turn on your hazard lights to signal to the police officer that you’re looking for a safe spot.
  • Stay calm and be polite. Remember that the police officer is just doing their job, and being argumentative or confrontational will only make the situation worse.
  • Keep your hands in plain sight on the steering wheel. This will help the police officer feel more at ease and avoid any misunderstandings.
  • Follow the police officer’s instructions. If they ask for your license, registration, and proof of insurance, provide it as quickly as possible.
  • Ask for clarification if you don’t understand something. If the police officer says or does something that confuses you, ask politely for them to explain.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t panic or try to flee. This can make the situation more dangerous for everyone involved.
  • Don’t argue or make excuses. Even if you feel the police officer is in the wrong, arguing or making excuses will only escalate the situation.
  • Don’t reach for anything without permission. Wait for the police officer to ask for your license, registration, and proof of insurance before reaching for them.
  • Don’t lie or provide false information. This can lead to further legal trouble down the line.
  • Don’t consent to a search without a warrant. If the police officer asks to search your vehicle or person, you have the right to decline unless they have a warrant.

Remember that being pulled over by the police can be a stressful experience, but by remaining calm and respectful, you can help ensure a safe and efficient encounter for both you and the police officer.

young-driver

Yes, if you are pulled over by a police officer in Canada, you are required to roll down your window to communicate with the officer. This is to allow for effective communication and to ensure the safety of both you and the police officer. Additionally, the police officer may need to see your face and observe any potential signs of impairment or distress, which may not be possible if the window is fully rolled up. It is important to follow the instructions of the police officer and cooperate with them during the traffic stop.

About the Author: Valerie D. Hahn

Valerie is an insurance editor, journalist, and business professional at RateLab. She has more than 15 years of experience in personal financial products. She strives to educate readers and ensure that they are properly protected.

37 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.)

      • Diana Plesko 14 December 2022 at 6:36 pm - Reply

        I was boxed in on a HIGHWAY by 4 OPP cruisers! I am a disabled senior female citizen alone in my car, they REFUSED to let me safely pull OVER – OFF THE HIGHWAY! They did not get out of their cars, they did NOT show me any ID, nor did they ask to see mine, only a few odd random questions then said I could go – THIS CANNOT HAVE BEEN LEGAL!! Do I have any legal course of action available to me? I was TERRIFIED, they wouldn’t let me pull over, showed me no id, nor asked to see mine!!

  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?

  20. Jake 17 April 2023 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Can police say they are giving you a warning if they have no actual evidence. Context: I had just gotten off the 401 and immediately pulled into a parking lot pulled into a parking spot and was about to get out to go on with my business when suddenly I saw a cop with his lights pull up behind me so I follow protocol stay in the car with the engine off and the windows down and the cop comes up to my window and tells me another driver reported me for passing on the centre median I denied the accusation and he go quite rude with me and tried tough guying me a bit but I didn’t admit to anything then finally said “well I’ll let you off with a warning but next time I’ll know your lying because you’ve had previous problems” then drove off all mad is he legally allowed to say that he is warning me when the only evidence he had was a random phone call and zero video evidence or multiple witnesses or was this unlawful?

  21. kari 26 May 2023 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    does a cop have to tell you your rights when they pull you over? I live in Alberta and was pulled over, given a IRS sanction and only received my papers as the officer said I could go. Never explained about why a second test could be done or review the documents with me. Should they?

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