This page has been written for the purposes of legal education. Its purpose is to present in a general and simplified manner the law in force in Quebec concerning police powers and duties, your obligations as citizens and advice when you consider that a police officer is driving a vehicle recklessly or indiscriminately. Its content should therefore not be construed as legal advice or advice. To find out the specific rules or advice appropriate to your situation, consult a lawyer.
Police Powers associated with Driving an Emergency Vehicle
As drivers of an emergency vehicle, police officers and other peace officers have certain powers or are exempt from following certain rules, including:
- road signs, including traffic lights;
- prescribed speed limits on public roads;
- the obligation to use the turn signals to indicate your intention to turn, make a U-turn, change lanes, etc.;
- the prohibition to carry out several successive overtakings in zigzag;
- a ban on overtaking in the opposite lane when approaching and in an intersection;
- no overtaking on the right;
- ban on immobilizing a vehicle:
- on a sidewalk;
- on a limited access road;
- in a place prohibited by signage;
- ban on:
- obstructing traffic;
- rendering signaling ineffective.
In addition, the drivers of these vehicles can use an electronic device such as a cell phone at any time while driving.
Drivers of emergency vehicles are exempt from these rules when they are in an emergency trip or in one of the following two situations:
- Emergency driving. They can, in certain circumstances, perform emergency driving when a situation arises that could lead to the loss of life and serious injury. In this case, they must make sure to drive their vehicle with caution and discernment, following the teachings they have received in this regard. They must be visible at all times by operating their lights, as well as a siren if it does not interfere with their intervention.
- Police vehicle chase. Exceptionally and as a last resort, they can obtain permission to carry out a police pursuit in a vehicle. They must have reasonable grounds to believe that an offense has been committed and have no other means of identifying or apprehending the suspect. Other elements must be considered, including the nature and seriousness of the offence, the weather conditions, the presence of pedestrians, the density of traffic, the existence of risk zones, the presence of passengers in the vehicle, the characteristics of the police vehicle and those of the suspect's vehicle. Throughout the pursuit, the police officer must assess the risk in order to determine whether it is preferable to end it for personal safety issues or for other reasons.
When it comes to you, when an emergency vehicle approaches your vehicle and its light or sound signals are activated, you must:
- give way;
- reduce your speed;
- drive as far to the right as possible;
- stop, when required, to ensure the safe passage of the emergency vehicle.
If you do not comply with these rules (sections 406 and 406.1 of the Highway Safety Code), you risk receiving a ticket.