Getting pulled over by the RIDE program

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Now that the holiday season is upon us, there is lots of holiday celebrating going on and that usually means a little (or a lot) more drinking. But with the holiday season comes the annual RIDE (which stands for Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) program. As everyone knows by now (or ought to know by now), the RIDE program is a random roadside spot check program set up by the police to check drivers for sobriety.

Most people either don’t think about having a run-in with the RIDE program or don’t think they’ll have a problem with it if they do. Here’s what you can expect if you do have a run-in with RIDE: A police officer will approach you and ask you series of questions. During this conversation, she will be checking to see if she can smell alcohol on your breath. She will also ask you if you have had consumed any alcohol. If she smells alcohol or you indicate that you have been drinking, then you will be asked to pull over to the side. Once pulled over to the side, you will be asked to perform a roadside breath test (Note: If the officer believes your ability to operate a car is impaired by alcohol, she can arrest you right away for ‘impaired driving’ without the necessity of having to administer a roadside breath test.). At this point in time, you are generally not entitled to speak to a lawyer and it is a criminal offence for refusing or failing to provide that breath sample.

The roadside screening test registers either a pass, warn, or fail signal. If you pass the roadside screening test, you will be allowed to proceed on your way. If you register a ‘warn’ on the test, you may have your licence suspended under the Highway Traffic Act. If you fail the test, you will be arrested for driving with more than the legal limit of alcohol in your system. The legal limit in Canada is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. It is a criminal offence to drive while over the legal limit.

You will be handcuffed, read your rights to counsel, and taken to the police station. Your car will be towed and impounded for 7 days. At the police station you will be allowed to speak to a lawyer and your will be required to provide further breath samples. Again, it is a criminal offence to refuse to provide those breath samples. If the samples produce readings over the legal limit, you will be required to attend court and answer to the criminal charge of ‘over 80‘. The best and fastest way to proceed through a RIDE spot check is to not drink and drive.


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