- Police can stop you on the street or in a car for a number of reasons; they can only come into your home in limited circumstances.
- If you are stopped on the street you do not have to answer any questions but you can choose to cooperate with the police.
- If you are stopped in a car you need to show your licence and registration.
Being stopped by the police can be stressful. Remember that the police must obey the law and respect your rights. Police are trained in correct and safe ways to handle situations.
In most cases the police are easy to spot. They will usually be in uniform and have a badge. Their vehicles are generally marked. Even if police are not in uniform, or their car is unmarked, they must follow the same rules. If you are not sure whether someone is a police officer ask them.
It is important to stay calm. Listen to what the police say about why they are stopping you. Don’t run away, lie to police, get into an argument or a physical fight. Know that you can make a complaint later if you think the police are doing something wrong. If the police do not protect your rights it will make it hard for them to take your case to court.
The police will:
- show proper identification when not in uniform
- provide their name and badge number if you ask
- tell you why you are being stopped
- only use force if it is necessary and allowed by law
If you do not understand what the police are saying tell them. You could say something like “no English.” The police can get you a translator if necessary.
The police can stop someone walking down the street for different reasons, including just to chat or to investigate a crime.
The police may walk up to you just to engage you in conversation. You do not have to talk with the police if you do not want to. If you want to go on your way, ask if you are free to go. If the police say you cannot go, you are being detained or arrested - otherwise you can simply leave.
You do not have to identify yourself just because the police stopped you. However, if the police think you have broken a law you should identify yourself. If you do not identify yourself in these cases the police can decide to arrest you to establish your identity. For example, they may need your name to give you a ticket for jaywalking.
The police may stop you when you are driving a car for a number of reasons. When you are driving a car there are many rules that must be followed. The police help to enforce these rules.
The police can stop a car:
- for routine checks to make sure that the driver has a licence, the car is registered with Saskatchewan Government Insurance, the vehicle is in good working order and to make sure the driver is not drunk or on drugs
- for safety concerns, such as the trunk being open or something hanging from the car
- if the police see that the driver or other people in the car are not obeying traffic safety laws such as wearing a seatbelt, signalling when changing lanes, stopping at stop signs and red lights or following speed limits
- if the car has a headlight, tail-light or brake-light that is not working
- if the police are looking for a suspect or a witness to a crime and the car and/or the people match the description
- if police have reason to believe that the driver is drunk or on drugs or the driver is driving dangerously
- if there is a warrant for the arrest of someone in the car
If the police suspect that you have been drinking, they can require you to take a roadside breath test. Roadside screening devices don't tell the amount of alcohol in your blood. They usually show pass, fail or warning. You do not have the right to talk to a lawyer before a roadside test. The police can also have you do something like walk a straight line to see if you are drunk. If they ask for these things you must do them.
If the police have reasonable grounds to suspect that you are over the legal limit for alcohol they can take you to the police station for a breathalyzer test. If they believe that you are impaired by drugs they can test your blood for drugs. You have the right to speak to a lawyer before these tests. A breathalyzer test gives a reading of the amount of alcohol in your blood.
What should I do if the police stop my car?
- If you see red lights and/or hear a siren, remain calm and safely pull over to the right side of the road (or nearest edge of the roadway on one way streets).
- Stay in your car and encourage any passengers to also stay in the car and wait for the police to come to your car.
- If the police ask for your licence and vehicle registration you must give it to them. If you need to reach for them tell the police where they are first.
- The police may issue you a ticket. If you feel the reason is vague or unclear, ask the officer for details.
- Avoid getting in an argument. If you do not agree with the ticket you will have a chance to fight it in court. If you think the police have done something wrong you can make a complaint later. Get the police officer’s name and badge number and write down what happened as soon as you can.
- If you receive a ticket, accept it calmly. Accepting the ticket is not an admission of guilt.
- Other than identifying yourself and providing your licence and registration, you are not required to say anything to the police unless you have been in a car accident. Do not lie to the police.
Police at your home
Police can only enter your home under some limited circumstances. If the police come to your door you may choose to let them enter. It is important to understand that you do not need to let them enter unless they have one of the reasons below. If the police are not in uniform, they will identify themselves as police. Because of safety rules the police will not take off their shoes and cannot accept any food or drink.
The police can always ask questions to help them do their job but you do not have to answer them. You may want to answer police questions to help them do their job of keeping communities safe.
The police can enter your home if:
- they have an arrest warrant or a search warrant
- they are chasing someone to arrest them and see that person enter your home
- they need to enter right away to protect people or prevent evidence from being destroyed
- they are answering a 911 call or giving first-aid
If the police come into your house - and you do not think they have good reason to - do not try to stop them. You should tell them you do not agree to them coming in. Get their names and badge numbers. Write down what happened as soon as you can, in as much detail as you can. Then, if you want to make a complaint later, you will have the information you need.
Published on October 21, 2016.