Driving without a licence is a serious offence that carries a criminal charge in some cases. Drivers who operate motor vehicles in Canada, despite being prohibited from doing so, face driving while disqualified charges, a serious criminal offence.
Driving While Disqualified
You are guilty of driving while disqualified if a judge issued a court order that you cannot operate a motorized vehicle, but you did so anyway. Driving while disqualified is a criminal offence that results in a criminal record, fines, further suspensions, and jail time.
If you face charges of driving while disqualified, the prosecutor must prove three things to secure a conviction.
- You were operating the motor vehicle on a street, road, highway, or other public areas in Canada.
- You were disqualified from driving at the time in question.
- You knew you were disqualified from driving and understood the restrictions but chose to drive anyway.
What Qualifies as a Motor Vehicle?
The term motor vehicle applies to more than cars, though it doesn’t include railway equipment. Under the Criminal Code, a motor vehicle consists of any equipment drawn, propelled, or driven by means other than muscle power. The definition includes airplanes, farming equipment, and construction machinery.
What Causes Somebody to Be Disqualified From Driving?
Judges disqualify people from driving for many reasons, including impaired driving and dangerous driving convictions. Though you’re technically driving without a licence, disqualified driving involves a little more because you chose to disobey a judge’s order.
There are two main reasons somebody is charged with driving while disqualified. The first is being found guilty of a Criminal Code driving offence. Criminal Code driving offences tend to be dangerous driving acts, like driving at excessive speeds, refusal to provide a breath sample, and failing to remain at the scene of an accident.
The other possible reason for a driving while disqualified charge is somebody driving despite a licence suspension from a Provincial Court. Driving on a suspended licence may result in a driving while disqualified charge, primarily if you have an HTA suspension.
What is HTA suspension? HTA stands for the Highway Traffic Act, and there are two types of HTA suspensions, depending on the situation. Discretionary HTA violations may result in licence suspension, while mandatory HTA violations definitely lead to suspension. In most cases, the police officer issuing the citation makes the decision.
Penalties If You Are Charged For Driving While Disqualified In Ontario
Driving while disqualified carries harsh penalties because it means the driver knowingly violated a judge’s order, a serious offence in Canada. Individuals convicted of driving while disqualified face additional losses, such as the following:
- Police officers may impound the vehicle and hold it for 45 days, after which the driver is responsible for the associated costs.
- Jail time ranging from six months up to five years
- An additional licence suspension of one year
- A fine of between $5,000 and $25,000
Subsequent driving while disqualified offences carry steeper fines, longer licence suspensions, and additional jail time.
What Happens When Your Disqualification Ends?
It is important to take proper steps to reinstate your licence because you cannot start driving immediately after your disqualification ends. Each province handles licence reinstatement differently, but it usually involves payment of fines and attendance of court or government-mandated programs.
Driving While Disqualified vs. Driving While Suspended
Though driving while disqualified and driving while suspended sound like similar offences, there are a few important distinctions. Understanding the difference between the two charges is critical because the penalties attached are significantly different.
Driving while disqualified is a criminal charge under the Criminal Code. If convicted of driving while disqualified, the individual will have a criminal record for the rest of their life. It is preferable to have the charge reduced to driving while suspended.
On the other hand, driving while suspended falls under provincial law and does not result in a criminal trial or criminal record. This distinction is important because provinces can suspend licences for non-criminal activities, like unpaid child support.
The other differences between driving while disqualified and driving while suspended are the penalties attached. Driving while disqualified charges are generally steeper. Driving while suspended carries lesser fines and no more than six months in jail compared to the penalties detailed above for driving while disqualified.
Legal Defence For a Driving While Disqualified Charge
Facing a driving while disqualified charge can be daunting. It’s important to understand your rights, what you’re facing, and what you can do to improve your situation. Contacting a legal representative is your best option because experienced criminal lawyers know how to build a proper defence and hopefully reduce your charges.
Have You Been Charged With Driving While Disqualified In Onatrio?
If you've been charged with driving while disqualified in Ontario you should contact us as soon as possible. We have skill and experience in helping people who have been charged with driving while disqualified 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.