What are My Rights When Police Stop Me?
Do I Need to Say Anything to the Police?
You need to produce your identification, insurance and vehicle registration if requested by the police and comply with their demands for a saliva sample, sobriety test, and/ or a blood or urine sample. Other than complying with these things and identifying yourself, you do not need to speak to the police. This means that if they ask you questions, like whether you have smoked marijuana, you do not need to answer.
If you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent and do not need to speak to the police. In Canada, even if you tell police you are using your right to silence they may continue to ask you questions. You do not need to say anything.
It is a criminal offence to lie to the police about your identity or in a statement. Simply stay silent. If you are unsure whether you need to say anything, ask to call a lawyer.
Can They Search My Car?
If you are stopped at the side of the road, police can look in your car like any other person could. This means looking through your windows, possibly with a flashlight if it is dark. Police can see anything left in plain sight in your vehicle, like a bong or bag of cannabis.
Police cannot search your car unless they believe a crime was committed and that items connected to that crime are in your car. If the police believe there is something in your car, they cannot search unless they have a warrant, or believe exigent circumstances are present. Exigent circumstances means that police believe that they must search your car now because they are concerned for their safety, the public’s safety, or think evidence would be destroyed. Your car may be impounded until the police have a search warrant. Then they would search your car for evidence. This can include searching inside any bags left in your car.
Police may try to get your consent to search your car, trunk, or to look inside of any bags in your car. You do not need to give them consent.
Can They Search Me?
Police can do a pat down search of your body either upon arrest, or before arrest if they believe that their own safety is at risk. This is done for their safety to ensure that you do not have any weapons or things that could harm anyone. If police feel any hard objects, they may ask you to take those objects out of your pocket.
When Do I Get to Call a Lawyer?
When you are initially stopped, either by the police or at a traffic stop, you do not have the right to call a lawyer. You must comply with an oral fluid test if they ask without consulting a lawyer. If you refuse and the police charge you, then you may speak to a lawyer.
If police request a DRE, or a blood or urine sample, then you have the right to talk to a lawyer.
If police arrest you, and take you into custody, then you have the right to talk to a lawyer.
If you do not know your lawyer’s phone number, police can assist you in getting your lawyer’s phone number. If your lawyer cannot be reached, or if you do not have a lawyer, you can tell the police you want to speak with a lawyer and they can arrange for you to speak with Legal Aid. You can also call a private lawyer who you can hire later if you wish.