Is a random check by a police officer legal?
Have you ever been stopped by a police officer when you thought you were driving perfectly and your vehicle was in order? Whether it is a roadblock, a verification of your driver’s licence and proof of insurance, the physical condition of your car or a simple sobriety check, does a police officer, by law, have the right to stop you at random?
A police check where nothing should be left to chance
Police officers can indeed randomly stop you under the Highway Safety Code. However, they must respect certain aspects for the interception to be considered lawful.
For a peace officer to be able to stop you under the Highway Safety Code (CSR), he or she must be easily identifiable, for example by wearing his or her uniform.
The police officer can also intercept you when you are travelling on a public road. This notion of public road also includes so-called private roads which are open to public traffic. You must also understand that if you are on a public road and a police officer chases you, you cannot then enter a private property and tell them that they cannot carry out the check. Since the pursuit had already begun, he will then have the right to cross the line between public and private roads to catch you and intercept you. However, if his interception is motivated by a purpose other than road safety control, for example by the simple curiosity of the police officer or some unclear reason, then the random check will be invalid.
The reasonable grounds issue
The police officer may also, if he or she has reasonable grounds to suspect that you are committing an offence, detain you for the purpose of conducting an investigation. This detention will be justified if the police officer, acting in the course of his or her duties, has reasonable grounds to believe that you are committing an offence or that you have just committed one. Finally, the police officer can stop your vehicle if he or she believes that the vehicle’s occupants need immediate assistance. To this end, the police officer may require you to submit to a breathalyzer test when he or she believed that you were in trouble, he or she has reasonable grounds to believe that you drove your vehicle while impaired or with a blood alcohol level that would be above the legal limit.
A criminal lawyer to defend you against a random check
In summary, a police officer can stop you at random when you have not committed any Highway Safety Code violations. However, if the police officer searches you because they believe you have committed an offence and find something incriminating, you may be charged with the second offence. If you are in a similar situation, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will provide you with the right advice.
This article is based on the book by Karl-Emmanuel Harrison.
reference: HARRISON, Karl-Emmanuel, Capacités affaiblies: principes et application, 3rd edition, LexisNexis Canada Inc.