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Driving With Suspended Licence – Ontario

The ability to drive with a valid Ontario driver’s license is vital to modern life. Driver’s licenses can be suspended for multiple reasons, sometimes even without your immediate knowledge. 

If your license has been suspended and you are stopped by the police, you can be charged with Driving While Under Suspension, a Provincial Offence under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). 

Although this is not a Criminal Code offence, these offences still carry severe penalties if convicted, such as high court fines, potential imprisonment (up to six months of jail time), further driver’s licence suspension, as well as having a very large impact on insurance costs. 

If you are found guilty of driving while your license is suspended for a criminal conviction, you can face a jail sentence as well as large fines.

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Common Reasons For A Suspended License in Ontario

The most common reasons for an Ontario driver’s license to be suspended are:

  • Unpaid court fines
  • A court-ordered driver’s license suspension
  • Administrative driver’s license suspension 
    • Immediate, 90-day suspension if: 
      • Your blood alcohol concentration (B.A.C.) exceeds .08
      • You fail or refuse to give a breath, blood, oral fluid or urine sample when asked by police
      • You fail or refuse to perform physical tests or submit to a drug evaluation when required by police
  • An immediate roadside suspension from police for charges such as Stunt Driving or alcohol-related offences
  • Criminal offence conviction
    • A conviction for any of the following Criminal Code of Canada offences results in a one-year suspension
      • Controlling a vehicle with a BAC of more than 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood (.08)
      • Refusing to submit to a breath test for alcohol
      • Failing or refusing to provide a breath sample for roadside testing
      • Failing to remain at the scene of a collision
      • Dangerous driving
      • Causing death or bodily harm by criminal negligence
      • Failing to stop for police
  • Discretionary Ministry of Transportation (MTO) suspension after an interview
  • Mandatory MTO suspension due to accumulated demerit points 
  • “Escalating sanctions” suspension for novice drivers in the license classes G1, G2, M1, M2
  • Family Responsibility Office (FRO) suspension
  • Medical suspension


The Highway Traffic Act Overview on Suspended Licences

Driving While Under Suspension falls under section 53 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA), which states: 

53 (1) Every person who drives a motor vehicle or street car on a highway while his or her driver’s license is suspended under an Act of the Legislature or a regulation made thereunder is guilty of an offence[…] 

The wording here is very simple: If your driver’s license is suspended, you can’t drive.


Penalties For Driving With A Suspended License in Ontario

  • Fines: The law imposes fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 for a first offence and increases for subsequent offences.
  • Imprisonment: Offenders may face up to six months in jail, depending on the severity of the offence.
  • Further Suspension: A conviction will result in an additional six month license suspension.
  • Insurance Penalties: Convictions lead to increased insurance premiums, marking you as a high-risk driver.
    Driving with a suspended license in Ontario is not considered a criminal driving offence.

If you are caught driving around with a suspended license and convicted of the offence, the following three areas of penalties will apply; Court penalties, MTO imposed penalties, and increases to insurance premiums. The court penalties prescribed under the HTA are as follows:

  1. for a first offence, to a fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000; and
  2. 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).

(1.1) Despite subsection (1), every person who drives a motor vehicle or street car on a highway while his or her driver’s license 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,

  1. for a first offence, to a fine of not less than $5,000 and not more than $25,000; and
  2. 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).

It is important to note that these fines are subject to an additional 25% victim fine surcharge. A conviction would also result in an MTO imposed mandatory six-month license suspension. The penalties for Driving While Under Suspension can be summarized as follows:


* Plus the mandatory 25% victim fine surcharge.

If the original license suspension was due to one of the reasons detailed under HTA sections 41 and 42, then the elevated penalties can be summarized as follows:

* Plus the mandatory 25% victim fine surcharge.

A conviction for Driving While Under Suspension would be a permanent record of conviction on your driving history that would be visible to the Prosecutor and used against you should you be charged with a subsequent offence by the police. As the offence carries a mandatory six-month license suspension, no demerit points are applied to your driver’s license for a conviction. However, your insurer may consider you to be “high risk” if convicted, resulting in significantly increased insurance costs. The Highway Traffic Act is constantly evolving, but you can read the full text of the most up-to-date version on the official Ontario website.


What Should I Do If the Police Have Charged Me With Driving On a Suspended License?

If you are charged with driving on a suspended license, your first phone call should be to OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services. Your summons will list an upcoming ‘first appearance’ court date, and you will need to seek out important information to help ensure that you are making informed decisions on how to deal with this serious offence. Every case is unique depending if your situation includes careless driving, if you have too many demerit points, other traffic tickets, your suspension period, if you’re a fully licensed driver, if this is your first or second occurrence or if there is also impaired driving offences.

Immediate Steps if Charged

  1. Seek Legal Advice: Contact OTD Legal immediately for a free consultation.
  2. Understand the Charges: Get clarity on the charges against you and their potential impact.
  3. Prepare for Court: Work with your legal team to develop a strong defence strategy.


How to Fight Driving with a Suspended License Charges

A legal misstep or an uninformed decision can result in negative consequences that can impact your life for years to come. Attending court hearings can be a large source of stress and anxiety for most defendants. We can relieve your stress by attending your court appearances for you. We can resolve most matters without you being required to personally attend any court appearances. A licensed paralegal is your voice and your advocate. Our staff are here to help you. We offer a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation to assist you. Our office can be reached via our toll-free telephone number 1-866-591-9206, by email at, or by text at 226-240-2480. You can also submit an online request for a consultation.

Suspended License Charge FAQ

What constitutes a strict liability offence?

Driving with a suspended license is a strict liability offence, meaning intent doesn’t need to be proven. However, ignorance of the suspension is not a defence.

Can I drive with a medical suspension?

No. Any form of suspension, including for medical reasons, prohibits you from driving legally.

What are the consequences of driving with a suspended license?

If convicted, you’ll face fines, potential jail time, additional suspension periods, and increased insurance rates.

How can I avoid suspension for unpaid fines?

Explore payment plans for outstanding fines.

Is Driving With A Suspended License A Criminal Driving Offence?

No, driving while under suspension is not a Criminal Code Offence; it is under the Highway Traffic Act.

What should I do if a police officer stops me and I’m driving with a suspended license?

If stopped by a police officer while driving with a suspended license, remain calm and cooperative. Provide the documentation requested and avoid making any admissions or statements. Contact legal representation as soon as possible following the stop.

How does driving with a suspended license affect my driving record?

Driving with a suspended license will negatively affect your driving record, leading to increased insurance premiums and potentially making you ineligible for certain types of insurance coverage. This mark remains on your record for at least three years.

What legal representation options do I have if charged with driving under suspension?

You have the right to seek legal representation from a licensed paralegal or lawyer who specializes in traffic law and driving offences. They can provide advice, represent you in court, and help minimize the penalties or possibly have the charges dismissed.

What can lead to vehicle impoundment under suspension charges?

Vehicle impoundment can occur if you’re caught driving with a suspended license due to criminal convictions or accumulating too many demerit points. The period of impoundment can vary, but it serves as an immediate penalty for the offence.

What does “automatically suspended” mean?

An “automatically suspended” license refers to suspensions that occur without the need for a court hearing, often triggered by specific events such as accumulating too many demerit points, failing to pay fines, or being in the warn range for blood alcohol concentration on multiple occasions.


Have You Been Charged for Driving on A Suspended License In Ontario?

If you’ve been charged for driving with a suspended license in Ontario, contact us as soon as possible. We have experience helping drivers just like you respond to accusations of driving with a suspended license and provide free, confidential consultations. We help drivers throughout Ontario including Kitchener,  Georgetown, London, Windsor and from our home office in Cambridge. Contact us online, call us directly at 1-844-647-6869, or text a copy of your ticket to 226-240-2480.


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“Helped me out HUGE! Totally saved the day when I got wrongfully charged. Highly recommend!!!”

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Speeding Tickets

Speeding tickets, common offenses, addressed in Ontario, Quebec, and various locations. If ticketed, understand legal rights, consequences, and options. Avoid simply paying; we can often reduce charges or find legal grounds for dismissal. Make informed decisions to safeguard rights and insurance rates.

Suspended License

Driving on a suspended license is a serious offence, potentially leading to jail time and hefty fines. If you’ve received a ticket or court summons for this in Ontario, OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services can assist.

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Accidents can unexpectedly disrupt life, causing immediate inconveniences and long-term consequences. If you’ve received a ticket or court summons related to a crash, OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services is here to assist.

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Failure to stop for emergency vehicles is a serious offense. If cited, seek help from OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services. Get Your Free Consultation With Us Today!

Cannabis Violations

While cannabis is legal, criminal charges related to its unlawful sale, distribution, or driving offenses can still occur. Safeguard your interests with OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services.

Failure to Wear Seat Belt

If you’ve been ticketed for not wearing your seatbelt, avoid steep fines, points, and insurance hikes. Before admitting guilt, consult with OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services.

CVOR / Commercial Tickets

For commercial motor vehicle drivers dealing with a CVOR ticket, understanding the consequences is crucial before deciding on a course of action.

Stunt Driving and Racing Tickets

If the police have charged you with Stunt Racing, you’re going to need to seek out critical information to make sure that you are making informed decisions to avoid legal missteps and protect your insurance rates and pocketbook.

Following Too Closely

Paying a follow too closely ticket can also result in a driver’s license suspension. If you have been charged with Follow Too Closely in Ontario, contact our office for a free, confidential consultation.

Unsafe Turn Ticket

Unsafe turn tickets, or Turn – Not in Safety tickets, are issued for a variety of reasons in Ontario. Our team is one of the most successful firms in Ontario at winning unsafe turn violation charges.

Cellphone Use & Distracted Driving

Driver distraction causes numerous preventable accidents annually, treated seriously under Canadian law. If you face a distracted driving ticket or court summons, OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services can advocate for you.

Careless Driving

Facing a careless driving charge in Ontario? Our team at OTD Legal, comprised of skilled lawyers and paralegals, is here to assist you. Our experienced team at OTD Legal understands the complexities of these charges and can provide the guidance and representation you need to navigate this challenging situation.

Fail To Remain / Report

Failing to remain at a collision scene is a grave offence with severe consequences. Conviction may lead to hefty penalties, license loss, and increased insurance costs for high-risk drivers. Safeguard your interests with our experienced team.


If you’ve been convicted of a civil traffic offense, you can appeal the decision to mitigate consequences. OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services aids in preparing your appeal, safeguarding your driving privileges and record.

Failure to Obey Stop Sign

Don’t underestimate the impact of failing to obey a stop sign. Before paying your ticket, consult with OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services for a confidential and free consultation.

Driving While Disqualified

Driving while disqualified is a severe criminal offense with potential jail time and vehicle impoundment. If you face charges, OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services is here to help.

Failure To Yield Ticket

Entrust OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services to contest your traffic tickets and pursue appeals, including “failure to yield” charges. From right-of-way issues to stop sign violations, our seasoned team is committed to protecting your rights and ensuring fair treatment under the law.

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If you have received a ticket or summons for Improper Use of the HOV Lane, contact OTD Legal Services as soon as possible. We can help you defend yourself and look out for your best interest.

Failing to Stop for a School Bus

Due to the serious nature of this charge, it is always best to talk to an experienced paralegal before deciding how to proceed. Our team can help uncover defences that may be available to you.

Have You Received A Traffic Citation In Ontario, Quebec, Michigan or New York?

If you’ve recently received a traffic citation in Ontario, Quebec, Michigan, or New York, OTD Ticket Defenders offers a free initial case review to explain your rights under the law. Contact us today to set up a no-cost consultation, or text a picture of your ticket or summons to 226-240-2480 for a fast and free evaluation of your case. We service all areas of Ontario including Kitchener, Cambridge, Georgetown, London and Windsor.


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