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Can you avoid DUI checkpoints?

A DUI check point. Photo by Getty Images

Even if you’ve never driven impaired — and you hopefully have not — chances are you’ve been stopped once or twice. On at least a few festive occasions each year, like New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day, it’s common to see police doing blanket checks for drunk drivers.

But do you have to stop there? After all, you’ve got a constitutional right to privacy and protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

If you see police, pylons, and flashing lights on the road ahead, can you pull a U-turn or otherwise avoid it?

Yes you can, within the law. You can’t plow into the woods or drive on the shoulder and squeeze on by, but you’re allowed to use a lawful exit or make a lawful turn to avoid a police checkpoint. 

However, police will be understandably suspicious if they see you pull a U-turn to avoid them, and there’s a good chance that they’ll chase you down. Many checkpoints also station patrol cars nearby to flag down those people taking evasive action.

Read: What are my rights when the cops pull me over?

So what about your privacy? After all, you’ve got a constitutional right to liberty and security of the person. Every Canadian does. But that freedom isn’t absolute. 

Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms says you’re not to be deprived of those rights, “except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

“Fundamental justice” is a bit of a nebulous concept, but that could include investigating suspicious activity. Your liberty is important, but it’s also important for police to know you’re not driving drunk, or up to some other nefarious activity.

Read more:

Justice Canada: Charter of Rights and Freedoms