Ignorance does not make you exempt from the law. It is everyone’s responsibility to know the laws of their country and it is no different here in Ontario. The same applies for your civil rights and liberties as found in the Charter of Rights and Freedom.
The police are the legal authority put in place by the government to enforce order and keep the peace. They are to be respected and cooperated with if the law requires you to do so and perhaps from a moral perspective, but this does not mean that you do not have the right to protect yourself and your possessions.
If you are operating a vehicle and have been pulled over by the police, there is no reason to be alarmed, regardless of your circumstances. The best thing to do is to be calm and composed. It is in your best interest to comply and follow their instructions (i.e. pull over).
The police have the right to pull you over if they decide to investigate certain requirements that are necessary to drive. A few are mentioned below. It is important to note that the police do not need any particular indicators that you are impaired, not following the rules of the road or are not licenced etc.
- Insurance and registration of the vehicle
- Whether or not the driver is licensed
- If the vehicle is in good working order (brake lights, indicators, etc.)
- The usage of seatbelts
In other words, the police can pull you over for no “apparent reason” other than to conduct a vehicle check to make sure you have a licence and insurance etc. However, if you have been pulled over by the police, this does not give them the right to search your vehicle, your person or interrogate your passengers. They are allowed to do so only if there is some suspicion of criminal behavior.
Police can easily ask to search your vehicle. It may sound like a command, but it truly isn’t. You have the right to respectfully decline a search of your personal vehicle without breaking the law. Unless they have a search warrant, the police need your consent to search your vehicle. If they are insistent on searching your vehicle, you are free to ask to speak with a lawyer before granting them permission to do so.
If you are in the process of committing a crime (for example the police see illegal drugs in your vehicle in plain view) or the police have grounds to suspect you are doing so, then and only then might they have the right to examine the contents of your vehicle (including questioning your passengers). Even then, you should ensure that you ask to know the reason you are being pulled over as well as contacting a lawyer immediately to preserve your rights.
Keep in mind; it is not wise to lie to the police. This is where an experienced criminal defence lawyer can be beneficial. Allow our top criminal defence lawyers at Kruse Law Firm to represent your best interests and protect your rights. We offer all new clients a free initial consultation, and you can call us at one of our many local Ontario offices or toll free. Visit our webpage at any time to fill out a free online form and give yourself the opportunity to get your life back in order.