Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in Ontario?

PUBLISHED ON May 8, 2021

When people drive under the influence, there is an increased likelihood of them causing an accident. DUI checkpoints also referred to as sobriety checkpoints, are commonly used to help get drivers under the influence off the road.You might have seen DUI checkpoints throughout Ontario before, like the annual holiday RIDE program with checkpoints set up throughout the province, including Toronto.

DUI checkpoints are different from being “stopped by the police” since the police do not need probable cause to conduct sobriety checks. Instead, they can decide who they want to test based on their impressions and whether they believe someone might be under the influence. To be clear, police are allowed to stop you at a RIDE stop without specific grounds or probable cause to believe you are impaired.  Police officers will certainly look for signs, like the smell of alcohol or drugs, or look on the seats to see if they see open containers or drug paraphernalia.

What Should I Expect at a DUI Checkpoint?

When passing through a DUI checkpoint, be prepared to provide your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and possibly proof of insurance. The police will inquire if you have been drinking or using drugs. They may require you to take a breathalyzer test or get out of the vehicle to perform field sobriety tests.

If you are not under the influence, you have nothing to worry about. If you are under the influence, you can be arrested and charged.

Do I Have to Answer the Questions the Police Ask?

You should not be questioned about anything that doesn’t directly relate to the consumption of alcohol or drugs.  Further, your legal rights do allow you to remain silent and you are under no obligation to answer questions that to not relate to alcohol/drug consumption.

Can the Police Do a Search Without My Consent?

If the police have probable cause, meaning they suspect you are under the influence, and you fail to pass sobriety tests, they can search your person upon arrest. They can search your vehicle if they have reasonable suspicion there is evidence to support being charged with a DUI offence.

Since the interpretation of what constitutes probable cause and what is considered reasonable suspicion is subjective, there are times when police conduct searches that could violate your Charter rights. As such, any evidence collected can be excluded upon a successful application at your trial.

Please keep in mind the above is for educational purposes and does not constitute actual legal advice.  For legal advice, contact a criminal lawyer in Toronto to address your matter.

Should you pass through a DUI checkpoint and are charged with a DUI offence, get the legal advice and representation you need by contacting Toronto DUI defence lawyer Brain Ross. Call (416) 658-5855 for the help you need today!

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Brian Ross is a founding partner at Canada’s largest criminal Law firm, Rusonik, O’Connor, Robbins, Ross & Angelini, LLP. Prior to founding this firm, Brian was a partner at Pinkofskys, a leading law firm famous for its vigorous defence of its clients.

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