Is It Legal For The Police to Drive Like That?

Red Traffic SignalThe C.F.S.E.U. was in the news this week, probably not in the way they would have liked. You may have seen the dash cam videos from Richmond showing a number of vehicles apparently brazenly running red lights. The story hit the news amid amazed comments about how bad drivers were becoming in the Lower Mainland. In later days it was revealed that these were unmarked police vehicles doing surveillance on gang targets.

Is it legal for the police to drive like this? The answer is a qualified yes.

When I started policing in 1981, section 122 of the Motor Vehicle Act gave the operators of emergency vehicles the authority to disregard the rules in Part 3. This part contains the rules on speed, stopping and lane use to mention a few examples.

Fire apparatus and ambulances were required to use flashing lights and a siren in all circumstances and the police could use lights and siren, lights alone or no emergency equipment at all depending on the circumstances. In all cases, due regard for the situation must be continuously considered.

In early 1998, section 122 was amended to require adherence to the Emergency Vehicle Driving Regulation (EVDR) when disregarding Part 3 requirements. With that change came mandatory training for emergency vehicle drivers before they could exercise these privileges.

The regulation defined in much more detail what could and could not be done along with justification needed to do so. It particularly restricted pursuit by police and loosened response requirements for fire and ambulance.

In all cases, the risk to the public using the highway must be outweighed by the risk of not making an emergency response.

Returning to the story from Richmond, this was not a pursuit as defined in the EVDR. It was a situation covered by section 4(2)(b) instead and is permitted as long as the public was not subject to unwarranted risk.

In the limited view provided by the dash cam videos that were shared, I did not see more than what would cause some surprise and consternation for surrounding traffic. There were no instances shown were civilian drivers had to slam on the brakes or make abrupt moves to avoid a collision.

I am not going to say that there was not a higher than normal risk present for everyone involved. There was, but it appeared to me that care was exercised to minimize it.

In order not to jeopardize the investigation, it may be some time before the reasons for this incident can be shared with the public.

Also, considering the wide publicity given to this incident, I don't doubt that police are actively trying to find a better way to follow their criminal targets. I can't think of a better way to confirm to the bad guys that they are under investigation than incidents like this.


Submitted by E-Mail

Before I came to live in Canada, I worked for Customs in the UK and we were also allowed by law to go through red lights if safe, etc. when following suspects. It was not something we took lightly as you were effectively putting your life on the line.

The vehicles we were driving were the best blend in vehicles we had available, and we certainly didn't want the public finding out what we had. We also used to notify the police that we had X vehicles and their licence plates so that they could deal with any calls that might come in.

Fast forward 25 years and everyone has a phone camera, or a dash cam, and the job of following someone has become more difficult. Not sure how they will solve this, but I wish them luck. I'm sure they did their best, and yes you still go through a red light, so you do attract attention.

When I see this ...

... I really wish there was data out there to show the number of collisions involving police vehicles, along with the cost incurred.

For kilometers driven, I wonder how they would compare to the rest of us?

You Could Ask

E Division Headquarters would be the place. I think that this is the correct form for the request if they won't tell you.


Doing two weeks at one time

Doing two weeks at one time and just had to mention that the video from last week probably was undercover police vehicles also.

As for this video I don't know what they had under surveillance but I think if one was to check you would find a donut shop not too far from this intersection. To me it looked like nothing was in front so it was not like they were following a vehicle. On top of that if I saw an idiot behind me blowing a stop sign to stay behind I would definitely be wondering what they are up to. So to put it simply there is no explanation that would excuse this action. Obeying the rules of the road is far more important than the few minutes this saved these officers.

You should watch this video:

I know this is from the states unfortunately the holier than thou attitude has no borders.

Another dangerous habit I have noticed with police cars is deactivating their DRL. Years back in discussion with the Officer in Charge of E Division I was advised that the only time they are could deactivate the DRL is when they are stopped doing surveillance. Why they couldn't put on the hand brake like the rest of us I don't know. I found the info in the operators manual on how to turn the DRL's off. Pays to read if you can. But as many continue to this day to deactivate I feel this feature should be removed. Public safety is a bigger concern.

Until the attitude of the majority of polcie officers change things are not going to get better. Currently all first responders have an attitude that they are better than the average person which is far from the truth. I wonder how many were bullied in school and now they hide behind a badge and bully others?

Not related but indicative of the attitude of some

Just saw this article and although it has nothing to do with running red lights it does show the mental problems some officers have and how they try to rationalize their actions when caught.

Warning it is graphic and discretion should be considered before reading.


The article is irrelevant to this discussion.

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