Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License in Ontario
If your licence has been suspended in Ontario, you have already committed a traffic offence. By continuing to drive without a valid driver’s licence, you are committing another one.
Not surprisingly, then, the penalties you face will be harsher than the initial penalty and you can expect your driving ban to be extended.
But what exactly are the penalties for driving under suspension? Are there valid defences for the offence? And how do you go about getting your licence reinstated in Ontario after a suspension?
What is suspended driving in Ontario?
The Highway Traffic Act of Ontario includes the following definition of driving while suspended:
“Every person who drives a motor vehicle or street car on a highway while his or her driver’s licence is suspended, under an Act of the Legislature or a regulation made thereunder, is guilty of an offence.”
How can you get suspended from driving in Ontario?
In Ontario, a driver’s licence suspension can be ordered by:
- The government
- The court
- The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario
Many types of infringement can result in a suspension.
You can “lose” your licence for a criminal act on the roads or elsewhere, a single careless act on the roads or an accumulation of traffic violations over time.
It is quite common for a suspension to result from accumulating too many demerit points (15 points or more for Class G licence drivers).
Other infringements that can result in suspension include the following:
- A conviction for a criminal driving offence (imposed by the court)
- A court order from a judge
- A violation of a G1 or G2 drivers’ licence (learner’s permit)
- Failure to pay a fine
- Driving under suspension
- Speeding (over 50km/h)
- Stunt driving/street racing
- A breathalyzer reading over .50mgs
- Failure to pay family support payments
- A civil judgement under the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act
In all cases, if your driver’s licence is suspended you cannot legally drive on any road in the province of Ontario.
If your suspension is the result of a conviction for a criminal driving offence, you cannot legally drive anywhere in Canada.
What are the penalties for driving under suspension in Ontario?
The Highway Traffic Act lays out the following penalties for a conviction for driving under suspension:
- “for a first offence, a fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000; and
- for each subsequent offence, a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $5,000,
or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both.”
So, there is a minimum fine of $1,000 and the possibility of six months in jail. You will also face a six-month licence suspension for a first offence.
For cases involving alcohol suspension, a fine of $5,000 may be imposed.
With an experienced driving offence lawyer, it is unlikely that you would face jail time for a first offence.
It is best not to take any chances. In addition to these immediate penalties, you may face other consequences such as increased insurance premiums, as well as penalties associated with a criminal conviction, including restricted employment and housing options.
With such far-reaching consequences, a charge of driving under suspension must be taken seriously.
What are common defences for driving under suspension?
With a charge of driving while suspended in Ontario, you have already disobeyed a court order or administrative driving penalty so sympathy from the court will be in short supply.
However, legitimate defences can still be presented by experienced attorneys. These generally include defences such as:
- Ignorance of the suspension
- Your suspension was not valid or the notice of suspension did not arrive or was erroneous
- You drove under suspension only to avoid an emergency
What happens with a demerit point suspension?
The length of suspension based on demerit points will depend on your class of license and whether it was your first offence.
As a Class G driver, if you reach nine demerit points, you may be called for an interview at The Ministry of Transportation to explain why your licence should not be suspended.
If you reach 15 points, your licence will be suspended for 30 days for a first offence and six months for subsequent offences.
Demerit points remain on your licence for two years from the date of the offence and once the conviction has been confirmed, they cannot be removed unless the conviction is removed.
How do you reinstate your licence after unpaid fines?
Your driver’s license will not be suspended for non-payment of parking fines but it may be suspended due to an unpaid traffic ticket.
You have 45 days from the date of issue of the ticket to pay the fine or you will be convicted of the offence. The Ministry of Transportation will be notified of an unpaid fine and your licence will be suspended until it is paid.
To reinstate your licence, you will need to pay the fine at any traffic court in Ontario and your driving privileges should be restored within four days.
You must then visit any Service Canada office and pay a reinstatement fee, after which time the ministry will provide you with a licence reinstatement notice.
Have you been charged with driving under suspension?
In Ontario, driving is considered a privilege, not a right. It is important to defend these privileges as the loss of a licence is a huge convenience for most Ontarians.
A seasoned traffic offence lawyer may be able to help you retain your licence. Call 613-223-4089 to arrange a free case evaluation with one of the lawyers at Friedman Mansour, LLP.