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What to Do After Being Arrested for a DUI in Ontario: A Step-by-Step Guide [2023]

Impaired driving, refuse breath sample, and “Over 80” are all drinking and driving offences. In recent years, there has been a significant evolution in Canada’s DUI laws. Recent revisions to the Criminal Code have made it easier for the Crown to secure convictions. The consequences of a conviction have also increased. The complex nature of drunk driving charges makes it necessary to retain attorneys with extensive knowledge in this field.

If you are arrested for a DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) in Ontario, it is important to take the following steps:

  1. Remain calm and cooperate with the arresting officer.
  2. Request to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. You have the right to legal counsel, and a lawyer can provide you with important legal advice.
  3. Gather information about the charges and follow all conditions of your release, including any requirements to attend court. 
  4. Record the details of what occurred.
  5. Hire a criminal defence lawyer to represent you. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal system, protect your rights, and advocate on your behalf.
  6. Be Patient.

1. Remain calm and cooperate with the arresting officer

Even though being pulled over for drunk driving is never pleasant, being rude or disruptive will not help you get out of it. You should be aware that you could be arrested for a criminal offence if you refuse to blow into a breathalyzer. A person must comply with a police officer’s demand to submit to a breathalyzer test in Canada if specific requirements are met. For instance, if a person is stopped by the police for a spot check, the officer may ask them to blow into a “Approved Screening Device” at the side of the road. Occasionally, motorists may be asked to go with the constable to the station to obtain breath samples from an “Approved Instrument.” If you fail to provide a sample when requested by the authorities, you may be found guilty of an offence akin to driving while intoxicated, also known as driving “Over 80”.

Further, being respectful and cooperative with the police can help your case. While you may feel that the police unfairly targeted you or that you should not have been stopped, being obstructive can get you into even more trouble. For example, providing false information to the police, such as a false name, can result in you being charged for Obstruction of Justice, which is another criminal offence. While it is vital to protect your rights, it is important to remember that you will fight your case in court, not with the officer on the roadside.

2. Request to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. You have the right to legal counsel, and a lawyer can provide you with important legal advice.

Understanding your rights is essential when facing an arrest or being investigated for a crime. Your own thoughts may be clouded given that the situation can be frightening and stressful. One of the most significant rights people have when they are arrested or detained by police is the right to consult and retain legal counsel without delay. You will be able to protect your rights while being held by the police if you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. The largest benefit of legal counsel is that it can prevent the police from eliciting information from you that could be used against you in court, thus putting you in the best position to fight any criminal charges that are brought forth.

3. Gather information about the charges and follow all conditions of your release, including any requirements to attend court. 

Upon your release from custody, the police will provide you with paperwork related to the charges you are facing. If you were released from the police station, you will likely be provided with an undertaking listing the conditions you must follow on your release. Ensure that you follow any conditions and respect any restrictions you are under regarding your release. Common conditions include: requiring you to advise the officer in charge of any change in employment or address, provide your fingerprints, and a mandatory condition to attend your first court appearance date.

It is important to ensure that you have this information and keep it safe, as you can be charged with breaching an undertaking if you fail to follow the conditions of your release. Also, having information, such as the charges you are facing and your next court date, will assist you in finding a lawyer who can help and represent you in court.

4. Record the details of what occurred.

Immediately after your release from custody, you should write down whatever information you can recall regarding your arrest (including what happened before, during, and after your arrest). This can be done by writing down the information or taking a voice note on your phone. You should recap everything you can recall, starting with when the police arrived right up until you left the station.

You should answer the following questions for yourself: What have you told the police? How did you first interact with the police? What justification did the officers offer you if they pulled you over? Did the police make any additional remarks about how you drove? Did they request that you submit to a roadside breathalyzer test? Did the police inform you of your right to counsel? After your arrest, did the police ask you to provide a statement?

5. Hire a criminal defence lawyer to represent you. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal system, protect your rights, and advocate on your behalf.

The most important thing to do following your arrest is to hire a competent lawyer who can fight your case in court. Impaired driving and DUI charges are very technical in nature. They are tough charges to defend if you do not have specialized legal experience in this area. This is why hiring a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer to represent you is essential. 

The first and most crucial reason to employ a skilled criminal defence lawyer is that they are familiar with the legal system. The legal system is complex, even for those who deal with it on a daily basis, but a skilled defence attorney should be familiar with the system and help you navigate it. A skilled Toronto criminal defence lawyer can advocate on your behalf and protect your future. If the police obtained evidence against you improperly, a qualified attorney might be able to get your charges reduced or even withdrawn. They can spare you from the negative effects that a criminal conviction might have on your life by potentially getting your case dismissed. 

The average person cannot fully appreciate the restrictions that law enforcement officers must follow when gathering evidence for a criminal case. They do not have the same freedom as TV shows, Facebook, or even the news may imply. A good criminal defence lawyer will spend years learning the procedures that police officers must follow. Having this knowledge allows skilled criminal defence attorneys to flag ways in which the police may have violated the rights of the accused. If the collection of the evidence was done improperly, your attorney may be able to get it excluded from your case and secure a resulting dismissal.

6. Be Patient

An impaired driving case can take time to resolve. It is not unusual for a DUI case to take anywhere from months to even a year to conclude. Before your case goes to trial, it is crucial that your attorney receives and examines all of the relevant evidence. A knowledgeable DUI lawyer will make sure that no detail is overlooked. Keep in mind that those who wait will reap the benefits of their patience. Every DUI case is different. You need a lawyer that is knowledgeable in impaired driving cases if you want the best outcome.

Let us Defend You

The chances of a successful outcome can seem slim when you’ve been charged with “Over 80” or a DUI. In situations like this, having an experienced lawyer on your side is essential. When it comes to impaired driving, we have experience defending clients in Toronto, Brampton, Newmarket, and other parts of Ontario. Our defence strategy is predicated on a thorough analysis of your case. We will investigate your charges and all of the disclosure. We will hold the Crown to their burden of proof and pursue every defence available. If you have been charged with “Over 80” or a DUI and want the support of an experienced legal team, please call Karapancev Law today.

Alexander Karapancev

Alexander Karapancev

Alexander Karapancev is a Toronto criminal lawyer practicing throughout the province of Ontario. He regularly serves as lead trial counsel on serious and complex criminal cases. He is the founder of Karapancev Law, a law firm representing clients facing criminal charges, regulatory offences, and professional discipline proceedings.

Mr. Karapancev has acted as counsel in hundreds of cases throughout the province of Ontario, regularly representing clients at trials, applications, bail hearings and preliminary inquiries. He is regularly retained to defend individuals charged with serious allegations of fraud, drug trafficking, DUI offences, domestic assault, and sexual assault. Prior to founding his law firm, Mr. Karapancev practiced criminal defence at a boutique Toronto law firm and also served as a per diem Crown prosecutor.

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