Traffic violations

Frequently asked questions

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, whether the driver has valid car insurance, and whether the car is mechanically fit to be driven. The police do not have to suspect that a driver is drunk 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 checkpoint.

When can the police request a breathalyzer?

Before asking a driver to perform a roadside breath test, the police must generally have a good reason to suspect that alcohol has been consumed. This may arise from a number of observations by the police, such as your appearance, your physical movements, whether you or your car smell of alcohol, and your answers to questions.

Although you are not required to respond to questions by the police, failing to do so may lead the police to suspect you have consumed alcohol, and they will likely require you to provide a roadside breath-screening sample. You do not have the right to consult a lawyer before performing the roadside test. However, you do have the legal right to consult a lawyer before performing the breathalyzer test at the police station.

What is considered impaired driving?

You do not have to exceed the legal blood alcohol limit to be charged with impaired driving. The only requirement for a charge of impaired driving is that your ability to drive was affected by alcohol or drugs, regardless of how much or how little was actually consumed.

What counts as distracted driving?

While Canadian drivers spend more time talking and texting behind the wheel, distracted driving has become the leading cause of automotive fatalities in several provinces, overtaking speeding and impaired driving. Each province and territory except Nunavut has clamped down on distracted driving.

Any of the below actions while driving can result in a distracted driving charge: 

  • making phone calls;
  • reading and sending text messages or e-mail;
  • programming a GPS;
  • watching any entertainment device;
  • operating a portable MP3 player;
  • personal grooming, like putting on makeup, brushing your teeth or shaving;
  • reading or writing.


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