Law enforcement agents are intent on stopping and arresting drivers whom they feel are impaired. However, in the course of these efforts, police make mistakes, and people make inaccurate judgments. When this happens, the individual accused of impaired driving can pay the price with hefty penalties.
With this in mind, it can be critical to avoid these mistakes if the police stop you for drunk or drugged driving in Ontario.
- Mistake: Being combative with the officer. You might feel angry or upset that the police are stopping you. You might feel they have singled you out unfairly. However, taking your anger or frustration out on the police officer will likely not be productive. Instead, be polite and try your best to stay calm. Ask to speak with your lawyer as soon as possible if the police arrest you.
- Mistake: Assuming the officer is on your side. No matter how nice a police officer may be, he or she is not necessarily focused on helping you if they suspect you of driving drunk. Keep this in mind when they ask to search your car or if they keep you waiting unusually long during the stop. These are tactics to collect evidence against someone, so be wary and focus on protecting your rights.
- Mistake: Refusing to take breath or field sobriety tests. In Ontario, drivers generally do not have the right to refuse these tests. Doing so can result in fines and license suspension. However, police must administer these tests properly, so pay close attention to the process. Any procedural mistakes could be grounds for the dismissal of drunk driving charges.
- Mistake: Giving too much information. Police will likely ask you questions when they pull you over, including where you were, where you are going and what you have had to drink. You can refuse you answer these questions without a lawyer, but you should remain calm and polite when doing so. And you should not lie to the officer.
Avoiding these missteps could be the difference between going home and going to jail.
That said, even if you do make these or other mistakes during a stop, you still have the right to defend yourself against drunk driving charges. You can work with a lawyer to explore your legal options and possible defences.