Making Statements to Police Officers

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Bixie
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Making Statements to Police Officers

Unread post by Bixie on

Consider a common winter occurrence:

It's winter, and there's been a cold snap. The highway you are traveling on is wet, but not slippery. You take your exit, but the salt trucks haven't been on this ramp, and despite slowing down to below the recommended speed, your car slips on some black ice, and you find the car rotating clockwise. The car rotates 180 degrees, and slides backwards off the ramp on the inner side onto the grass, away from the guardrail (fortunately for you and your car).

Everyone inside the vehicle is alright, there is no damage to your vehicle or any public infrastructure, and there were no other vehicles around to witness the incident. Nevertheless, your car is about 10 feet away from the off-ramp, and stuck on the snowy grass. You call CAA and wait for the tow truck to arrive.

While waiting for the tow truck, a police officer drives by, and sees your car sitting in the centre of the off-ramp. He turns his lights on, pulls over, and steps out of the car. As you roll down the window, he asks, "What happened here?"

1. What are you legally obligated to say to a police officer?

2. What should you say to a police officer?

3. Which (if any) offence(s) would you be guilty of?

4. Which (if any) offence(s) would be provable in court, without self-incrimination?


Bixie
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Unread post by Bixie on

I understand that HTA 199 obliges drivers to report, "the particulars of the accident," to police only when damages exceed $1000.

Since there are no damages in this case, I would think that the driver is under no obligation to state any particulars of the accident.

However, suppose there was $1001 worth of damage. Suppose the driver struck the guardrail instead of sliding off of the ramp. What "particulars" would the driver be obligated to report? What should the driver say? Is it a plausible defense to say, "I do not precisely recall," when asked for particular details? Do drivers have the right to legal advice before making any statements to police in this event?


screeech
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Unread post by screeech on

It is $2,000 or personal injury...then you must report it...
If there is no damage, as in your scenario, no obligation to report


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Nanuk
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Unread post by Nanuk on

Bixie wrote:I understand that HTA 199 obliges drivers to report, "the particulars of the accident," to police only when damages exceed $1000.

Since there are no damages in this case, I would think that the driver is under no obligation to state any particulars of the accident.

However, suppose there was $1001 worth of damage. Suppose the driver struck the guardrail instead of sliding off of the ramp. What "particulars" would the driver be obligated to report? What should the driver say? Is it a plausible defense to say, "I do not precisely recall," when asked for particular details? Do drivers have the right to legal advice before making any statements to police in this event?
So in your scenario..

a) No damage scenario : police approach and you indicate you ''don't precisely recall'' . With that answer I'm going to find it a bit peculiar and likely wonder how it is you don't remember what had occurred. Is it a medical issue ? Should you not be driving ? I'm now going to investigate this . This could end up with me suspecting you may be under the influence of a drug or alcohol... maybe you have a medical condition and I should send a notice to the MTO to review your suitability to have a licence .

A different response such as ,'' I was traveling quite cautiously ended up sliding, when I tried to correct it I ended up down here.'' With no damage and nothing else in play the officer is likely not going to lay any charges. Nor would the officer be required to submit a collision report.


EphOph
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Unread post by EphOph on

Nanuk wrote:A different response such as ,'' I was traveling quite cautiously ended up sliding, when I tried to correct it I ended up down here.'' With no damage and nothing else in play the officer is likely not going to lay any charges. Nor would the officer be required to submit a collision report.
But now you've admitted to driving and going off the roadway. I suspect you would be leaving with a careless driving ticket in hand.

Instead of giving an answer that would bring your mental faculties into question, couldn't you just state "nothing to report"? (assuming no damage)


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bobajob
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Unread post by bobajob on

are we:

1 Talking hypothetically
and
2 what did you say to the "hypothetical" Police Officer ;)
--------------------------------------------------------------
* NO you cant touch your phone
* Speeding is speeding
* Challenge every ticket
* Impaired driving, you should be locked up UNDER the jail


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bobajob
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Unread post by bobajob on

My common sense is the following

I would be polite and explain to the police officer what happened, without being smart, evasive or give them an opportunity to think negatively.

that said IMHO has a 50/50

1> Cop assists and I'm on my way
2> Cop hands me a ticket

I've had 2 positive interactions with cops
1 traffic ticket I could not talk myself out of
1 incident the police department deceived me entirely and only by the grace of God I didn't end up in jail
--------------------------------------------------------------
* NO you cant touch your phone
* Speeding is speeding
* Challenge every ticket
* Impaired driving, you should be locked up UNDER the jail


Bixie
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Unread post by Bixie on

bobajob wrote:are we:

1 Talking hypothetically
and
2 what did you say to the "hypothetical" Police Officer ;)
This is mostly hypothetically. A similar situation (the no damage scenario) occurred last spring, with exception of the police officer driving by. I did, however, keep my lights off, and quickly shooed away any good Samaritans who happened to stop, lest I attract any unwanted attention before getting a tow.

If I had been stopped, I probably would have explained something like Nanuk said, "I was traveling quite cautiously ended up sliding, when I tried to correct it I ended up down here," although now that I know more, I would be more likely to say, "I have nothing to report," in the no-damage scenario, or, "I would like to speak with my lawyer before making any statements," in the damage scenario. Is this the safest course of action?

With all due respect to the helpful members of the law enforcement community on this board, I get anxious easily and I've had at least one too many police officers twist my nervous words into supposed admissions of guilt. For these reasons, I'd like to avoid giving statements "on the spot."


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Decatur
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Unread post by Decatur on

Just so you're aware. In the damage senario, you would be required to give the officer sufficient information to complete a collision report. Including your licence, permit and insurance. You can't "lawyer up" before providing this information.


Bixie
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Unread post by Bixie on

A police officer receiving a report of an accident, as required by this section, shall secure from the person making the report, or by other inquiries where necessary, the particulars of the accident, the persons involved, the extent of the personal injuries or property damage, if any, and the other information that may be necessary to complete a written report concerning the accident and shall forward the report to the Registrar within ten days of the accident. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 199 (3).
I would be happy to report to the police officer my license, permit, insurance, and any other objective information but I would prefer to consult a lawyer before giving an actual statement describing, "the particulars of the accident." It seems that prompt legal advice would not hinder an officer's ability to complete a written report within ten days of the accident, so this should be allowed, right?

I'm surely not the first to wonder about my right to silence after a traffic "accident" (I prefer the term, "collision"), am I?


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Decatur
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Unread post by Decatur on

That 10 days concerns forwarding the report to the registrar, not conducting the investigation. I would likely charge someone under section 199 if they decided not to furnish me with those particulars or if another party was involved, rely on their statement.
Also, I would be obligated to caution someone prior to taking a statement if I was going to rely on that for use in court.


jsherk
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Unread post by jsherk on

As always, anything you say can and will be used against you.

Do a google search for this:
ontario know your rights talk to police

And then read some links from Law Firms (not police) and you will get good idea of what you can do.
+++ This is not legal advice, only my opinion +++


argyll
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Unread post by argyll on

Here's the first one that pops up:

http://svan.ca/police-rights/

Except that doesn't say when you do have to identify yourself. Following this will, in some circumstances, get you arrested for failure to identify.

Not very useful.
Former Ontario Police Officer. Advice will become less relevant as the time goes by !


screeech
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Unread post by screeech on

"As always, anything you say can and will be used against you".
Not true...if it were true there would be no need for voir dires...


jsherk
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Unread post by jsherk on

argyll wrote:Here's the first one that pops up: http://svan.ca/police-rights/
Except that doesn't say when you do have to identify yourself. Following this will, in some circumstances, get you arrested for failure to identify.
Not very useful.
I specifically said to read the ones from the law firms... that is not a law firm link.




+++ This is not legal advice, only my opinion +++


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