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Can the police stop me on the street and ask for my ID?

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Can the police stop me on the street and ask for my ID?
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Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD)
Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD)
Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services

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Can the police stop me on the street and ask for my ID?
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Reviewed: 
December 18, 2018
Answer

Yes, the police can stop you and ask for documents that show who you are. When you are stopped on the street and asked your name, date of birth, address, or to show your ID, it is called a "street check". This is also known as "carding".

What you must do

Whether you have to show the police your ID or answer any questions depends on the situation.

In most cases, if the police stop you on the street, you do not have to show the police your ID or answer any questions.  

If the police stop you while you are driving or cycling, you do have to show the police your ID or tell them who you are when asked. This is required by the Highway Traffic Act and municipal bylaws.

What the police can do

The police do street checks when they're looking into suspicious activity, gathering general information in the community, or investigating crimes they know or suspect might have happened.

A street check does not have to be for a specific crime, it can be for general criminal activity. The police have to follow certain rules when they do a street check.

Street check rules

Starting January 2017, the police must tell you why they want your ID. They must also tell you that you can refuse:

  • to show them your ID
  • to give them your name and date of birth

The police must have a good reason to ask for your ID. They are not allowed to ask for your ID:

  • because of your race
  • because you are in a high-crime area
  • because you refused to answer a question or walked away
  • to meet a target for how many IDs they want to collect

If you decide not to give the police your ID or tell them who you are, they can't stop you from leaving.

The police must also take notes about the street check. They must keep a record of whether you told them who you are or showed them your ID.

You will get a receipt

If you are involved in a street check, the police must give you a receipt. This is true whether you give them your ID or not.

The receipt is a piece of paper that should include:

  • the officer's name
  • the officer's badge number
  • how to contact the Office of the Independent Police Review Director if you have a complaint
  • who to contact to see the information the police have about you

If the rules are not followed

The street check rules are included in the Police Services Act. If a police officer does not follow these rules, they can be disciplined.

If you think an officer did not follow the rules, contact the Office of the Independent Police Review Director. Follow their procedure to make a complaint about the police.

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