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What to Do When You Get Pulled Over in Canada

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

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.

  1. You must immediately pull over when the police signals 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 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.
  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 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.

16 Comments

  1. Mike Regan September 7, 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 March 3, 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 August 25, 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 March 15, 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 January 30, 2021 at 1:04 am - Reply

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

  3. MARCEL LEBLANC July 12, 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 August 12, 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 January 30, 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 August 24, 2020 at 11:09 am - Reply

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

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

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

  6. Bob December 8, 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 December 21, 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 January 22, 2021 at 5:37 pm - Reply

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

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

      Lol

  9. J January 30, 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 February 8, 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?

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