Holiday Partying: What are Your Rights if Stopped by Police?

In the News

Every year, drunk and drug-impeded driving cause numerous casualties in Quebec. Can the police stop you at random to ensure you’re capable of driving safely?

Yes, they can (for the moment, at least)!

Right now, police can stop people at random on the road to check their licence and car registration. The police can also check if the person can drive safely. But the ability of the police to do this could soon change.

In October 2022, in the case of Joseph-Christopher Luamba, a black student, the Superior Court of Quebec declared that such random stops violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. So, in principle, police can no longer stop people at random. This recent court decision reverses a 30-year line of cases on the subject, which began with a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Important! This change does not come into effect right away. Police continue to have the right to do random stops (for now) because:

  • The Superior Court granted a period of six months before the change comes into effect.
  • The Quebec government appealed the decision to the Quebec Court of Appeal.

So, it may be a while before we know if this change will ever come into effect. It should also be noted that the Luamba decision does not prohibit police roadblocks to check all drivers they stop. Such roadblocks continue to be allowed.

You have the right to remain silent

If you are stopped by police and you are asked whether you have consumed alcohol or drugs, you don’t have to answer.

If you do choose to respond, your answer cannot be used as proof that you are guilty of an offence. For example, if you answer “Yes, I had two glasses of wine”, this statement can’t be used to prove you were driving under the influence of alcohol.