Letters to the editor 

Page 4 of 5

It is generally illegal for police to search your vehicle without probable cause, as described above. It is illegal in most provinces to carry open liquor in motor vehicles.

Most people think that if they are stopped by police they must identify themselves. You must identify yourself if you are operating a motor vehicle or bicycle, or if you are arrested. Most people do identify themselves when asked by police but again this is usually a matter of consent.

At the same time, however, it doesn't pay to be cocky with police, especially in a small place like Whistler. They can arrest you and detain you for 24 hours without charges, but of course, they don't usually do this unless you break the law or are an extreme jerk to them.

When police ask you your name a good polite response is "What do you want to know that for?" or "I prefer not to say." Ask them if you are under arrest, and if they say no, thank them and leave.

When they ask to search your bag, say: "I don't consent to a search. Do you have probable cause for a search? May I leave now?"

These type of responses force police to tread very carefully as to how they treat you, because they know that illegal searches and seizures are the stuff that lawsuits or internal disciplinary actions are made of. In general, unless you have committed an offence, you shouldn't be afraid to question why police want to detain you or search you.

Police in Canada are pretty good at following regulations, and they are really good if you know your rights and stand your ground. Also, remember, most of what the police are doing is with good intentions.

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