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Police powers to stop vehicles

It is always good to know what your rights are when you are stopped by the police.

Can the police stop me when I’m driving?

Police have the right to stop you to make sure your drivers information is current and valid. They can ask to see your license, car registration and insurance. If you refuse to provide them with these documents you may be charged under provincial statute. If you have to reach into your glove department to retrieve the documents, you should advise the police officer before doing so.

Furthermore, if the police have reasonable grounds to suspect that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs while you are driving, they have the right to stop you and have the right to tell you to take a breathalyzer test. If you refuse to comply, you may be charged with failing to take a breathalyzer test.

The police can also require you to do physical coordination tests, such as a walk and turn test or a walking in a straight line or a follow objects with your eye test.

The police can also stop you for other reasons, such as if they suspect that you have been street racing, or if they want to check if your car is mechanically fit. If you have a broken head or tail light, the police may stop you and give you a warning or a ticket.

Do the police have the right to question me?

The police can stop you and ask you questions but unless they have reasonable grounds to detain you or arrest you, they must let you go. 

If the police think you may have committed a crime, then you should give them your name but you should ask to speak to a lawyer before you say anything else.

If you do speak to police you should be aware that whatever you tell them during the course of the questioning, or even before or after, can be used against you in court.

There are some instances where you do have to speak to police and answer questions. One good example of such is if you have been in an accident and the police have to fill out an accident report, then you have to answer their questions or you could be charged. However, because such statements have to be made by law, they cannot be used against you.

If you have been detained or arrested by police you should ask for a lawyer right away.

Read more:

Know Your Rights Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Police Powers: Stops and Searches