Under Ontario law, driving is considered a privilege—not a right. People who are stopped by law enforcement officers for driving without a valid licence face a wide range of serious penalties—including fines, jail time, additional licence suspension periods, and a “high risk” label that will leave them paying higher auto insurance premiums for several years to come.

How Drivers Can Be Ticketed for Driving Without a Licence

There are a number of circumstances in which an Ontario driver can be ticketed for driving without a licence. For example:

  • The driver never had a licence.
  • The licence was suspended for accumulating too many demerit points.
  • The licence was suspended for failing to pay fines.
  • The licence was suspended for failing to make legally required family support payments.
  • The driver had a licence but forgot to renew it in a timely fashion.
  • The driver’s licence was suspended due to a medical condition that made it unsafe for them to operate a motor vehicle.

Please note that the rules regarding a licence suspension for demerit points are much harsher when a person is considered to be a novice driver. A new driver with a G1, G2, M1, M2, M1-L, or M2-L licence faces mandatory licence suspension for a conviction of any single offence carrying four or more demerit points or reaching a total of nine demerit points. A driver with a full licence is allowed to accumulate 15 points before a suspension occurs.

It is important to remember that demerit points are accumulated for any offence in Canada, as well as those in New York or Michigan. Sometimes, drivers with previous Canadian offences do not realize that a ticket in these two U.S. locations can push them over the threshold that triggers a licence suspension.

Potential Penalties

The penalty for driving without a licence depends on why your licence is not valid. Willfully driving without a valid licence is considered a more serious offence than simply forgetting to renew a licence you previously held.

One of the most serious charges is Drive Under Suspension. This offence will carry a mandatory six-month suspension that can’t be waived or reduced by the court once you are convicted. If your case involves a suspension for an alcohol-related charge, the minimum fine jumps from $1,000 to $5,000.

If your licence has been suspended for nonpayment of a fine, it does not matter how large your debt is. Fines range from $1,250 to $6,250, plus you’ll face potential jail time and a mandatory driver’s licence suspension for an additional six months.

If your licence has simply expired because you forgot to renew it in a timely fashion, you may be charged with the less serious offence of Drive Motor Vehicle – No Licence. This offence carries no mandatory suspension or jail time, but drivers must still pay associated fines and court costs.

Defence Options

Every case is unique, but there are a few defences that might be applicable to this charge:

  • You didn’t know about the licence suspension.
  • You did everything possible to avoid the licence suspension.
  • The licence suspension wasn’t legally valid.
  • The licence suspension didn’t have proper documentation.

If your licence was suspended for failing to pay fines, repaying your debt will be a crucial step in getting your driving privileges reinstated. If you are not financially able to pay the debt in full, you may be able to get the court to agree to a payment plan if you can provide a sufficient down payment.

If your licence was suspended due to a medical issue that affects your ability to drive, you might be required to appeal to the Licence Appeal Board for a medical review of your driver’s licence.

Do You Need To Defend Yourself Against An Ontario Traffic Ticket?

If you need to defend your driving rights against an Ontario traffic ticket you should contact us as soon as possible. We have skill and experience in helping drivers just like you respond to a variety of traffic tickets and provide free, confidential consultations to empower you to fight your charges. We help drivers throughout Ontario including CambridgeGeorgetownLondonWindsor and from our home office in KitchenerContact us online or call us directly at 1.844.647.6869 or text us a copy of your ticket to 226.240.2480.