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Do I have to show the police my ID if I'm outside during COVID-19?

Question
Do I have to show the police my ID if I'm outside during COVID-19?

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Do I have to show the police my ID if I'm outside during COVID-19?
Reviewed: 
November 11, 2020
Answer

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government of Ontario introduced special emergency rules. Some municipalities have also passed their own bylaws to deal with the pandemic. For information about different municipal rules, check the website for your city. For example:

Make sure you understand the rules in Ontario and in your municipality. You can be fined if you don't follow the rules. You may receive a ticket or summons to provincial offences court.

Showing your ID

Any provincial offences officer can stop you and ask you to identify yourself if they have "reasonable and probable" grounds to believe you're not following the emergency rules. Provincial offence officers include:

  • police officers
  • First Nations constables
  • special constables
  • municipal by-law enforcement officers

When you're asked to identify yourself, you must provide your:

  • correct name
  • date of birth
  • address

If you refuse to identify yourself to a police officer, it's possible that you can be charged with the criminal offence of obstruct police. This could mean you might be held for a bail hearing.

You have the right to ask the police what law they believe you're breaking. Remember, you also have a right to remain silent when questioned by the police and a right to counsel.

However, to avoid a ticket, you may decide it's best to cooperate and tell the police why you're outside if you're not committing a crime or breaking an emergency order.

Fines

If you're caught breaking the emergency rules, the police can charge you with one or more provincial offences. The police might give you a ticket or a summons that tells you to go to court.

The minimum punishment for each provincial offence is a fine of $750, or $1,000 if you tried to stop the officer from giving you or someone else a ticket. The maximum punishment for each offence is one year in jail, or a fine of up to $100,000.

Many municipalities have also passed their own by-laws with fines that may be different than the provincial amounts. 

If you continue to break the rules, you can be charged with a separate offence for each day that you didn't follow the rules.

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