Impaired Driving & IRPs

Navigating a DUI/IRP Charge in Canada: Your Rights, Repercussions, and Getting Back on Track

Sometimes even good people make mistakes. If you're facing an impaired driving charge (DUI) or an Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) in Canada, know this: you're not alone. It's a stressful situation, but there are steps you can take, and this guide is here to help you navigate them.


First thing’s first, let’s unpack the acronyms:

  • DUI (Driving Under the Influence): This is a criminal offence where you operate a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  • IRP (Immediate Roadside Prohibition): This is a provincial administrative penalty where police can suspend your license and seize your vehicle for a set period if they suspect impairment.

Should You Fight the Charge?

This is a big decision, and it’s best made with expert advice. Consulting a lawyer specializing in impaired driving cases is crucial. They can assess your situation, explain your options, and guide you through the legal process.

Here are some factors to consider when deciding to fight the charge:

  • The Strength of the Evidence: Did the police have a valid reason to pull you over? Were the field sobriety tests properly administered? Reviewing the police report with a lawyer can reveal potential weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
  • The Potential Consequences: A DUI conviction carries serious penalties, including license suspension, fines, and even jail time. An IRP, while not a criminal charge, can still disrupt your life significantly.

Possible Defences:

There are various defences a lawyer might explore, depending on your specific circumstances. Here are a few examples:

  • Charter Rights Violations: Did the police violate your rights during the stop or arrest? For instance, if they pulled you over without a reasonable suspicion, evidence obtained might be excluded.
  • Faulty Breathalyzer Test: Breathalyzer machines, though common, aren’t perfect. Improper calibration or underlying medical conditions can affect the results.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions can mimic impairment symptoms. A doctor’s report can provide a valid explanation for your behaviour.

The Repercussions of a DUI/IRP:

Even if you choose not to fight the charges, understanding the consequences is essential. Here’s what you might face:

  • License Suspension: Both DUIs and IRPs result in a license suspension, the length of which depends on the severity of the offence and your driving record.
  • Fines: DUIs come with hefty fines that can strain your finances.
  • Jail Time: Repeat DUI offenders or those involved in accidents may face jail time.
  • Increased Insurance Rates: Having a DUI on your record will significantly increase your car insurance premiums for years to come.
  • Employment and Travel Restrictions: A DUI conviction can impact your employment opportunities, especially if your job requires driving. It can also make international travel more complex.

Getting Back on Track

Facing a DUI/IRP charge is daunting, but it doesn’t have to define you. Here’s how you can move forward:

  • Complete Required Programs: Most provinces mandate participation in alcohol/drug education programs to regain your license.
  • Seek Support: If you struggle with substance abuse, there are resources available to help. Consider addiction treatment programs or support groups.
  • Learn from Your Mistake: Take this as a chance to reflect on your driving habits and make responsible choices moving forward. There’s no shame in admitting a mistake and working towards improvement.


  • Don’t Talk to the Police Without a Lawyer: It’s your right to remain silent and have legal counsel present during questioning.
  • Don’t Panic: Take a deep breath and focus on making informed decisions.
  • There Are Options: With the right support and guidance, you can navigate this situation and get back on track.

Additional Resources:

While this guide provides a general overview, every case is unique. Here are some resources for further information:

  • The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA):
  • Paralegal vs Lawyer: Understanding the difference can help you choose the right representation [reference a paralegal to fight dui charges ON Toronto DUI Lawyer]

The Takeaway:

A DUI/IRP charge is a significant setback, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. By understanding your rights, considering your options, and seeking professional help when needed, you can navigate this challenge and emerge stronger. Remember, there’s always a path forward, and you’re not alone in this.