One of the most important freedoms in our modern society is the ability to drive. Driving to work… Driving to purchase groceries… Driving to take the kids to school… Driving on a family vacation… Driving is inherent to our day-to-day lives and the loss of that freedom can have devastating consequences.
How do people most commonly lose their ability to drive legally?
One of the most obvious grounds for a loss of licencing in Ontario is the accumulation of demerit points. For a full G class driver’s licence, after accumulating 9 or more demerit points a driver will be required to attend an interview at the MTO to determine whether or not their licence will be suspended; at 15 or more demerit points a G class licence will be suspended without an interview. Many drivers are unaware that they can also have demerit points added to their Ontario driver’s licence if they are convicted in other Canadian provinces, the state of New York, or the state of Michigan.
Novice drivers (G1, G2, M1, M2, M1-L, or M2-L licences) have a smaller demerit point pool and will have to attend an MTO meeting at 6 or more demerit points and face mandatory suspension once reaching 9 or more demerit points. Novice drivers also face mandatory licence suspension for a conviction of any single offence carrying 4 or more demerit points. A conviction for breaching the terms of a novice driver’s licence will also generally result in a mandatory licence suspension.
Some of the most serious offences under the Highway Traffic Act or the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act can also result in a suspension of licence being issued against you by the court. Some offences, such as Drive Under Suspension, carry a mandatory suspension (a 6 month suspension for this particular offence) that cannot not be waived or reduced by the court once you are convicted. Other offences carry discretionary suspensions that may either be minimized or not be applied at all at the discretion of the court. Careless Driving is a common example of such an offence where the court can (but won’t necessarily) issue a driver’s licence suspension up to two years upon conviction.
Perhaps one of the most unfortunate scenarios that we commonly assist clients with is when their licence has been suspended for non-payment of a fine. In the busy rush of life it is easy to receive a minor ticket from the police, toss the ticket into a collection of papers at home, and then innocently forget to either pay the fine or file the ticket with the court. Regardless of a fine being in the tens of thousands of dollars or a small $65 fine, your driver’s licence can be suspended after the payment deadline has passed. Drivers in such a situation may find themselves pulled over by a police officer, having their vehicle towed and impounded (at their expense), facing a total payable fine ranging from $1,250.00 to $6,250.00, a mandatory driver’s licence suspension for a further 6 months, and potential jail time.
A less serious offence of Drive Motor Vehicle – No Licence can be issued in situations where the driver’s licence has not actually been suspended, but is simply not currently valid. This can occur when a driver neglects to renew their driver’s licence but continues to drive. Although this offence carries no mandatory suspension upon conviction or jail time, it still results in a record of conviction and a few hundred dollars in court fine.
This list of possible grounds for licence suspension is certainly not exhaustive and many drivers find themselves in licencing and legal trouble either through their purposeful actions or through factors beyond their control or awareness. Should you find yourself stopped and charged by the police for having a suspended or expired licence it is generally worthwhile to seek out basic information about what you have been charged with and what potential defences may be available to you. Once you have plead guilty or been convicted by the court, the various avenues of defence can become reduced and more expensive.