Any interaction with police officers can make people feel uncomfortable, even if they haven’t done anything wrong. Under these circumstances, it can be easy to forget that you have rights and legal protections.
For instance, if police stop you while driving in Ontario, remember that you have rights in that situation. To protect them and yourself, avoid the following common mistakes.
Mistake #1: Giving more information than you must
There are specific things you provide to police during a traffic stop, including:
- Driver’s licence
- Proof of insurance
- Registration for the vehicle
Beyond these documents, you do not need to offer up more information. You do not need to suggest why you think you were stopped, and your passenger does not need to answer questions unless police have reason to suspect he or she is involved in a crime.
Mistake #2: Being combative
Even if you are angry about getting stopped or you feel the stop was unfair, avoid escalating the situation by being combative. The side of the road is not going to be the place where you address allegations of a wrongful stop or profiling. In fact, getting aggressive or challenging officers could give them a reason to arrest you that they did not have when they stopped you.
Be polite with the officer. You can still decline to provide information or make statements but do so respectfully and calmly.
Mistake #3: Consenting to a search
Police may ask to search your car for several reasons. However, you do not need to consent to a search. Even if you feel you have nothing to hide, giving police permission to search your car can still be a mistake.
That said, police can still conduct a search of your trunk and car interior. But to do so, they must either secure a warrant first or have reason to suspect your vehicle contains illegal items or believe you may destroy evidence of a crime while the police wait for the warrant.
Dealing with any mistakes after the stop
While it is wise to avoid these missteps, people are not perfect. And it can be disorienting when police pull you over.
If you made a mistake or believe the police made a mistake, you can address it after the stop. To do so, talk to a lawyer about challenging any tickets or charges you may be facing.