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Police powers to stop vehicles and question drivers

Region: Ontario Answer # 770

When can the police stop your vehicle?

The police have the legal right to stop a car at any time for the purpose of checking certain things, such as whether the:

  • driver has consumed alcohol or drugs,
  • driver has a valid driver’s licence,
  • driver has valid car insurance,
  • car is mechanically fit to be driven, etc.

The police do not have to suspect that a driver is impaired before they stop a vehicle. In fact, the police have the legal right to conduct random spot checks for impaired drivers, and they have the right to pull any car over at a RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) program check point.

Responding to police questions

Once the police have stopped you, they have the right to ask you a number of questions, including whether you have consumed any alcohol or drugs. Although you do not have to answer these questions, it is advisable to co-operate with the police.

Taking a roadside test

Refusing to respond to police questioning may lead them to suspect that you may be impaired and they may then demand that you provide the following tests or sample:

It is a criminal offence to refuse to provide a roadside breath test or oral fluid sample, or perform a SFST, and you do not have the right to consult with a lawyer first.

Failing a roadside test

Failing one or more of the roadside tests SFST, breath test, or oral fluid test— can result in being charged under the Criminal Code. If the driver fails any of these roadside tests, they may be arrested and taken to a police station or medical facility for further testing. However, before taking further tests and or providing samples at the police station, you do have the right to consult with a lawyer.

For information on cannabis-impaired driving, refer to our Cannabis Law and Driving section.

It is important to note that you can be charged for more than one criminal impaired driving offence at the same time, such as:

The Crown prosecutor will decide which offence to prosecute (take to trial), based on the evidence and particular circumstances of the individual situation.

If you have a criminal record and want to erase it, call toll-free 1-877-219-1644 or learn more at Federal Pardon Waiver Services. It’s easier than you think.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, and need to hire a criminal defence lawyer, contact our preferred experts:

The Criminal Law Team

Calvin Barry Criminal Lawyers


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