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What are my rights if the police stop me when I’m driving?

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What are my rights if the police stop me when I’m driving?
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Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD)
Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD)
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What are my rights if the police stop me when I’m driving?
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Reviewed: 
December 17, 2018
Answer

If the police want to investigate a traffic law, or have reasons to believe you’ve committed a criminal offence, they may ask you to pull over and stop your car. They may investigate you.

Traffic laws are explained in the Highway Traffic Act. This Act gives police the power to pull you over to:

  • check that you have a driver’s licence
  • check that your vehicle is in good working order
  • check that your vehicle is properly insured
  • take a breath test to check for alcohol impairment 

You must show the police your:

  • driver’s licence
  • vehicle registration
  • proof of insurance for the vehicle

Passengers

Unless the police have reasonable grounds to believe that your passengers are involved in a criminal offence, your passengers don’t have to tell the police who they are.

Stunts and racing

If the police have reasonable grounds to believe you’ve been performing a stunt or racing, they can take away your car and driver’s licence. You won’t get your car back for at least 7 days, and your licence will be suspended for 7 days. You have to pay storage fees to get your car back.

Drinking alcohol and driving

The police can demand that you take a roadside breath test to check for alcohol impairment. They do not need a reason to ask you to take a breath test. 

If the police have reasonable grounds to suspect that you've been drinking alcohol within 3 hours of driving, they can demand that you do a Standardized Field Sobriety Test at the roadside. The Standardized Field Sobriety Test includes physical co-ordination exercises. For example, you may be asked to stand on one leg or walk in a straight line.

Depending on the results of the breath test, the police can take away your car and suspend your driver’s licence. They can also demand that you go to the police station for a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer test is done with a different device than a roadside breath test. The breathalyzer test is much more reliable and sensitive. It includes a reading of your blood alcohol level.

Taking drugs and driving

If the police suspect you’ve been taking drugs within 3 hours of driving, they can demand that you do a Standardized Field Sobriety Test. This test includes physical co-ordination exercises. For example, you may be asked to stand on one leg or walk in a straight line. The police can also demand that you go to the police station for drug evaluation tests.

The government has approved a saliva collection kit and reader to test your saliva for cocaine and cannabis. These devices are not yet available. Once available, the police will be allowed to demand that you give a saliva sample if they think you’re impaired by cannabis during a lawful road stop.

If you refuse any of the tests, you can be charged with a criminal offence for failure to comply with a police demand.

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