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Driving Under Suspension

There’s no doubt that having a driver’s licence is an important part of life in Ontario’s busy day-to-day life.  But what happens if your licence is no longer valid or becomes suspended?  Think of how integral that licence is to your personal, professional, and family obligations.   Some Ontarians specifically require a valid driver’s licence for their employment, while others use it to simply get to and from their place of employment.  Think of how difficult it would be to get your kids to school or attend a doctor’s appointment if you couldn’t legally drive.  

Driving without a valid licence is certainly tempting.  After all, what are the chances of being caught by the police?  Even if you do get caught, surely the consequences couldn’t be that bad?

Let’s take a look!

What is a Driver’s Licence? 

In Ontario, a driver’s licence is regulated by the Ministry of Transportation. To drive in Ontario, must be at least 16 years of age and hold a valid driver’s licence.  The main classes of driver’s licences are as follows:

Class A – Allowed to drive any tractor–trailer combination.  May also drive in class D and G.

Class B – Allowed to drive any school purposes bus.  May also drive in class C, D, E, F and G.

Class C – Allowed to drive any regular bus.  May also drive vehicles in class D, F and G.

Class D – A motor vehicle exceeding 11,000 kilograms gross weight or registered gross weight or any truck or combination provided the towed vehicle is not over 4,600 kilograms.  May also drive in class G.

Class E – Allowed to drive any school purposes bus – maximum of 24-passenger capacity.  May also drive in class F and G.

Class F – Allowed to drive any regular bus – maximum of 24-passenger capacity – and ambulances.  May also drive in class G.

Class G – Allowed to drive any car, van or small truck or combination of vehicle and towed vehicle up to 11,000 kilograms provided the vehicle towed is not over 4,600 kilograms. A pickup truck towing a house trailer exceeds 4,600 kilograms, but the total combined weight of the truck and trailer does not exceed 11,000 kilograms is deemed a Class G vehicle.

Class G1 – Level One of graduated licensing. Holders may drive Class G vehicles with an accompanying fully licensed driver with at least four years driving experience. Subject to certain conditions.

Class G2 – Level Two of graduated licensing. Holders may drive Class G vehicles without accompanying driver but are subject to certain conditions.

Class M – Allowed to drive any motorcycles, including motor tricycles, limited-speed motorcycles (motor scooters) and motor-assisted bicycles (mopeds). Holders may also drive a Class G vehicle under the conditions that apply to a Class G1 licence holder.

Class M1 – Level One of graduated licensing for motorcycles, including motor tricycles, limited-speed motorcycles (motor scooters) and motor-assisted bicycles (mopeds). Holders may drive a motorcycle under certain conditions.

Class M2 – Level Two of graduated licensing for motorcycles, including motor tricycles, limited-speed motorcycles (motor scooters) and motor-assisted bicycles (mopeds). Holders may drive a motorcycle but only with a zero blood alcohol level. Holders may also drive a Class G vehicle under the conditions that apply to a Class G1 licence holder.

Class M-L – Holders may operate a limited-speed motorcycle or moped only.

Class M2-L – Holders may operate a limited-speed motorcycle or moped only.

Class M-M – Holders may operate a motor tricycle only.

Class M2-M – Holders may operate a motor tricycle only.

Driving in Ontario is considered a privilege, not a right.  Just because you have passed your test and paid your MTO fees, doesn’t mean that you will always have driver’s licence.  The MTO has a web page full of possible reasons that you could lose your driver’s licence.  Some of these reasons could be:

  • Demerit points
  • Escalated sanctions penalties
  • Court imposed suspensions
  • Impaired driving
  • Medical suspensions
  • Administrative driver’s licence suspension (ADLS)
  • Roadside suspensions for alcohol or stunt driving
  • A cancelled or expired licence
  • Family responsibilities office suspensions
  • Unpaid court fines

Drive Motor Vehicle – No Licence

The lesser of the two potential charges would be Drive Motor Vehicle – No Licence under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA) section 32(1):

32 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway unless the motor vehicle is within a class of motor vehicles in respect of which the person holds a driver’s licence issued to him or her under this Act.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 32 (1).

The charges are relatively minor.  These offences are issued by way of “a ticket” and are argued at court by a Municipal Prosecutor.  They carry a $260.00 court fine plus a $5.00 court cost and the victim fine surcharge.  While a conviction would not carry demerit points, it would result in a record of conviction.  That record of conviction could then cause an increase to any current or future cost for automobile insurance.

Drive Under Suspension

These charges are much more serious and are issued by way of “a summons.”  The summons will list a mandatory first appearance court date that either you or your legal representative must attend.  Driving under suspension falls under HTA section 53:

Driving while driver’s licence suspended

53 (1) 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 and on conviction is liable,

(a) for a first offence, to a fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000; and

(b) for each subsequent offence, to 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.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 53 (1); 1997, c. 12, s. 7 (1).

Where a licence has been suspended under HTA section 41 or 42, the following more severe court penalties could be applied:

(1.1) Despite subsection (1), every person who drives a motor vehicle or street car on a highway while his or her driver’s licence is suspended under section 41 or 42, even if it is under suspension at the same time for any other reason, is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable,

(a) for a first offence, to a fine of not less than $5,000 and not more than $25,000; and

(b) for each subsequent offence, to a fine of not less than $10,000 and not more than $50,000,

or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both.  1997, c. 12, s. 7 (2).

The potential court court fines for driving under suspension are enormous.  It is important to keep in mind that these fines are also subject to an additional 25% victim fine surcharge.  This would create the following total-payable range of fines:

Under HTA s.53(1):

  • First offence:  $1,250.00 to $6,250.00
  • Second offence:  $2,500.00 to $6,250.00 

Under HTA s.53(1.1):

  • First offence:  $6,250.00 to $31,250.00
  • Second offence:  $12,500.00 to $62,500.00

A “subsequent offence” is defined under HTA sections 53(2) and 53(2.1) as:

Subsequent offence

(2) Where a person who has previously been convicted of an offence under subsection (1) is convicted of the same offence within five years after the date of the previous conviction, the offence for which he or she is last convicted shall be deemed to be a subsequent offence for the purpose of clause (1) (b).  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 53 (2).

Same

(2.1) Where a person who has previously been convicted of an offence under subsection (1.1) is convicted of the same offence within five years after the date of the previous conviction, the offence for which he or she is last convicted shall be deemed to be a subsequent offence for the purpose of clause (1.1) (b).  1998, c. 5, s. 25 (1).

A conviction for driving under suspension would also result in a further mandatory 6 month suspension of your driver’s licence:

Licence suspended

(3) The driver’s licence of a person who is convicted of an offence under subsection (1) or (1.1) is thereupon suspended for a period of six months in addition to any other period for which the licence is suspended, and consecutively thereto.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 53 (3); 1998, c. 5, s. 25 (2).

If found guilty at court, that record of conviction would be entered into your driving history and could then impact any current or future insurance costs while it is visible.

How Can I Fight My Charge?

If you have been charged by the police, you will need to make some very important decisions relatively quickly.  To make those decisions, you are going to need to seek out accurate information to decide what you are going to do.  Making an uninformed decision or a mistake could result in being convicted or being subject to higher penalties than is necessary.  The most cost-effective manner in presenting your defence at court is through a licenced and experienced paralegalYour paralegal knows the law and how the court process works.  Fortunately most cases before the court can be resolve by your legal representative without your ever having to attend court.  That alone can help alleviate the normal stress that comes with having been charged by the police.

The staff at OTD Legal are here to help you.  We offer a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation to go through your case history and details with you.  We can be reached via our toll-free number 1-844-647-6869, by email at info@otdlegal.ca, or by text at 226-240-2480.  You can also submit an online consultation request any time of day or night, and one of our staff will contact you during regular business hours to assist you.

Posted under Suspended Licence, Novice Drivers

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