What is Driving with Suspended License in Ontario
Every province, as well as Ontario, is striving to provide safety on its roads. Hence, drivers convicted of driving offences can have their driving licence suspended or even revoked. And according to the Highway Traffic Act, drivers are not allowed to drive with a suspended licence under any circumstances, until their licence is not reinstated. Otherwise, they can go to jail for up to six months.
What happens if you drive with a suspended license?
If you decide to drive while prohibited, you may receive a summons to court for driving under suspension in Ontario according to section 53 of the Highway Traffic Act with severe penalties.
It means that you were operating a motor vehicle while your driver’s license has been disqualified or prohibited by court-imposed suspension for unpaid fines, or other provincial offences (or even criminal offences) resulting in specific term prohibiting you from driving a motor vehicle as a form of punishment.
As mentioned, there are administrative driver’s licence suspensions and those that were imposed by a court order specifically restricting you from touching a steering wheel for a specific period of time.
By the way, police officers can easily scan (with special cameras) and identify motor vehicle licence plates that belong to drivers whose driver’s licence is currently under suspension.
Reasons for License Suspension
The most widespread reasons of Ontario driver’s licence suspension are the following:
- Conviction for criminal driving offence, such as driving while under the influence of alcohol/drugs (impaired driving) or dangerous driving;
- Licence suspension due to medical reasons (called medical suspensions);
- Young and novice drivers: if there is any blood alcohol concentration – immediate driver’s licence suspension;
- Unpaid fines;
- Failure to appear for trial;
- Exceeding of demerit points’ limit;
- Careless driving or stunt driving charge etc.
Driver’s licence suspension could be done by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, by the Ontario police, or as a result of Criminal Code offences.
Penalties For Driving With a Suspended License in Ontario
- mandatory driver’s licence suspension for a period of 6 months;
- first offence: minimum fine will be $1,000 and up to $5,000;
- subsequent offences: fine will be from $2,000 to $5,000;
- or imprisonment for a term of up to six months;
- or even both – fine and jail time.
As you can see, this is a serious offence with serious consequences. But if you were caught driving with suspended license Ontario and convicted under a Criminal Code offence, fines will be thousands of dollars and imprisonment is unavoidable (and, of course, criminal record).
According to the Highway Traffic Act, there are no demerit points associated with the offence in case of conviction, but insurance companies can use it against you to increase your insurance rates at least by 50% for the next 6 years.
Important: when you end up convicted for driving under suspended license it will remain on your driving record forever, which means every subsequent offence will be subject to higher fines and more severe punishment. A record for driving while suspended Ontario does not go away after 3 years.
What To Do If You’re Charged With Driving While Prohibited in Ontario?
- Stop driving your motor vehicle under any circumstances.
- Make arrangements to get to the nearest Service Ontario office or call the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario to reinstate your driver’s licence privileges.
- Prepare for a court date. Get ready to answer that your driver’s licence has been reinstated to have an opportunity to resolve your case to another substitute offence that will not have the same consequences when it comes to future insurance premiums or be prepared to conduct a trial.
- Because this is a strict liability offence, you will have an opportunity to present an argument as to why it happened that you ended up driving while suspended in Ontario. Should there be a convincing argument that demonstrates the fact you could not have possibly known that you were suspended which essentially makes the offence innocent you will be acquitted at trial.
As you can see, the process of fighting traffic tickets for driving while suspended is quite a time- and effort-consuming requires experience and good strategy. Moreover, a conviction may result in severe penalties. Thus, it’s better to save your money and time and to contact a lawyer for driving on suspended license as soon as possible and get legal representation.
How To Fight Driving With a Suspended License in Ontario
You can fight your ticket in 2 ways:
- Hire a traffic lawyer and get legal advice*.
- Fight it by yourself.
*In case of a Criminal Code offence you need to hire a criminal defence lawyer.
As mentioned, for provincial offences we recommend hiring a knowledgeable attorney for driving with a suspended licence that will be able to find any deficiencies with police officer’s evidence to dismiss the charge or increase your negotiating power to a substitute offence, lower reduced fine or reduced jail sentence.
When you hire a paralegal they will advise you of everything they need to get from you before attending your court appearances so you do not have to attend unless your presence is required to provide testimony on the stand.
If you choose to fight your ticket for driving while under suspension alone, you must be ready to follow such procedure:
- Reinstate driver’s license and prepare official proof that it has been reinstated.
- Request a police officer’s disclosure to understand the situation.
- Develop a defence strategy before your traffic court appearance according to the disclosure information. Penalty for driving with a suspended license in Ontario can be a much more complex matter than a regular speeding offence and courts do not treat them lightly as minor offences.
- Show up on the date specified on the summons given to you by the police officer and tell the court you are seeking a trial.
- A trial will be set for you so that next time you show up to court a police officer will have to attend as the main witness who conducted an investigation.
- At trial, be ready to demonstrate that you had done everything in your power to avoid committing a driving offence, show due diligence because the standard of proof is very high. Prove that you had done everything to avoid breaking the law but it’s through no fault of your own that your driver’s licence ended up being suspended.
- Bring any documents or letters that have any relevant information to your case. If your documents are in order and your driver’s licence has been reinstated accompanied by proof of paying off your fines, doctor’s notes, etc. it often takes at least 1 to 3 court visits to finalize your case.
When it comes to fighting driving under suspension penalties you should definitely prepare by researching previously decided cases to understand what evidence courts consider when making a decision after the trial has been completed.
A well-prepared strategy must be crafted prior to trial to ensure that your questions and arguments used can be applied exactly in your situation because every case is different.
We strongly advise that you consult with traffic ticket experts about your defence strategy or help you negotiate the best possible deal with the court without sabotaging your chances because you only get one opportunity to defend your rights.
X-COPS already faced a lot of various cases and knows exactly how to proceed in a better way. Contact us for assistance with the alleviation of your driving under suspension charge. Even if it’s your 2nd, 5th or even 6th offense driving while suspended – we can handle it!