Visit to liquor store brings a stop by police

Should you be suspected of committing a crime, namely impaired driving, for visiting a retail liquor store?

Should you be suspected of committing a crime, namely impaired driving, for visiting a retail liquor store?

In a period of three weeks I’ve been pulled over two times for ‘suspicion of impaired driving’ after having just left a cold beer and wine store and being followed for half to one kilometre. I asked why they had suspicion that I was impaired, and on both occasions was explicitly told, because I had just left a liquor store. I even asked if my driving was erratic or if I had made any driving infractions or dangerous manoeuvres as they followed. “No,” was the response given. The fact that I had been in a liquor store was enough to create the suspicion. In one instance I was ordered to provide a breath sample that produced a 0.00 result.

This is the fourth such stop I’ve experienced in the last 14 months, and my sister conveyed to me that a friend of hers just this week was stopped in the same way, suspected impaired driving because he had just left a liquor store, also ordered to provide a breath sample that produced a 0.00 result. It didn’t seen to matter if there was no odour of alcohol, or that my speech wasn’t slurred or that my eyes weren’t bloodshot. The investigative skills that the police have certainly been trained in to identify possible impaired drivers were never used.

So remember the next time you go to the liquor store, you might be followed by the police as you leave. You might even be pulled over as a suspected criminal, maybe even ordered to provide a breath sample, which is a search, regardless of your driving or your cognizant abilities.

If going to a retail liquor store, where consumption is prohibited, gives rise to the suspicion of impaired driving, it can only mean that the suspicion should be present upon one’s arrival. And you must have come from somewhere, maybe home, work. Should we all be presumed to be criminals when we get in our car because we might be going to a liquor store or maybe a grocery store when liquor sales start there?

Bob Broughton



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