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To the surprise of many people, yes, you can go to jail for getting a traffic ticket. Most believe that you will only go to jail for getting serious criminal charges under the Criminal Code. However, there are several provincial offences (traffic tickets) under the Highway Traffic Act that can impose jail time as a penalty. The length of imprisonment is commonly not as severe as a criminal charge, but it is imprisonment nevertheless. Let’s take a look at some of the most common charges that carry imprisonment as a potential penalty.
Driving While Under Suspension
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.
You will receive a “Driving Under Suspension” charge if you are found to be the driver of a motor vehicle while your license is suspended. If you are found guilty of this offence for the first time at a trial, you could face a fine of not less than $1000 and not more than $5000, or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both.
Racing, stunts, etc., prohibited
172 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway in a race or contest, while performing a stunt or on a bet or wager. 2007, c. 13, s. 21.
(2) Every person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, and in addition his or her driver’s licence may be suspended,
(a) on a first conviction under this section, for not more than two years;
Stunt driving is a very common charge that many are not aware carries a term of imprisonment. If you are found guilty of this charge for the first time at a trial, you could face a minimum of $2000 and a maximum of $10,000 fine, or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, and in addition his or her driver’s licence may be suspended.
Fail To Remain
Duty of person in charge of vehicle in case of accident
200 (1) Where an accident occurs on a highway, every person in charge of a vehicle or street car that is directly or indirectly involved in the accident shall,
(a) remain at or immediately return to the scene of the accident;
(b) render all possible assistance; and
(c) upon request, give in writing to anyone sustaining loss or injury or to any police officer or to any witness his or her name, address, driver’s licence number and jurisdiction of issuance, motor vehicle liability insurance policy insurer and policy number, name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle and the vehicle permit number. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 200 (1); 1997, c. 12, s. 16.
(2) Every person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $400 and not more than $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, and in addition the person’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years. 2009, c. 5, s. 54.
A “Failure to Remain” charge is a serious offence and should be taken very seriously if you’ve been charged. If convicted of a first offence at a trial, you could be subject to a minimum fine of $400 but not more than $2000, or to imprisonment for a term of up to six months, or both, and in addition the licence may be suspended for up to two years.
Will I automatically go to jail if I am convicted of an offence that carries jail time?
No, you will not. Firstly, the prosecutor must advise you if they intend on seeking imprisonment as a penalty for any offence and the Justice of the Peace has the final determination whether to impose. It is quite uncommon to be sentenced to imprisonment for a minor violation of one of the above charges. For example, one driver could misdiarize a payment date and allow their licence to become suspended unknowingly. On the other hand, one driver may knowingly continue to drive with no licence, and blatantly disregards the law. The penalty for these two drivers would be quite different for obvious reasons.
If you have a charge and the prosecution is seeking imprisonment as a penalty, it is extremely important to contact a legal representative for a free consultation. I strongly recommend getting a free consultation from our office.
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 Cambridge, Georgetown, London, Windsor and from our home office in Kitchener. Contact us online or call us directly at 1.844.647.6869 or text us a copy of your ticket to 226.240.2480.