Drive Suspend Penalty Calculator ➔
Is Driving Under Suspension a Criminal charge in Ontario?

Is Driving Under Suspension a Criminal Offence in Ontario?

Is driving under suspension a criminal offence?

The answer is no, it’s not a criminal offence.

But there are 5 really important things you need to know about this charge and the potential for jail.  

✅ Take our free Drive Suspend Penalty Test

https://suspension.nextlaw.ca

1/ Driving under suspension is not a criminal offence in Ontario.

But, it is an offence under the provincial law called the “Highway Traffic Act.”

And it is a serious offence under the “Highway Traffic Act.”

  • It’s known as a “public safety” offence.
  • That means it’s treated differently from a regular traffic ticket from a legal perspective and practical perspective.
  • The different treatment has a huge impact on the potential penalties you can face and the cost you may have to pay for insurance.

2/ Don’t get confused by the language

There is a criminal charge that’s called “Drive While Disqualified.”

“Drive While Disqualified” is very different from “Driving Under Suspension.”

“Drive While Disqualified” is a criminal charge under the Criminal Code of Canada.

  • This charge arises when you’ve been convicted of a criminal offence. And, as part of the penalty, your license was suspended by a judge.
  • If you’re caught driving during that license suspension, you’ll be charged with Driving While Disqualified, which is a criminal offence.

3/ You can go to jail for driving with a suspended license

Even though driving under suspension is not a criminal offence, you can go to jail for driving with a suspended license.

  • Under Section 53(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, upon conviction, the Justice of the Peace does have the power to put you in jail.  
  • And the Justice of the Peace can put you in jail for up to 6 months for every conviction.  
  • So, if you’re convicted on two separate charges of driving with a suspended license, you can go to jail for up 1-year.

4/ Here’s when jail may happen

If you’re convicted of driving with a suspended license, while jail is a potential penalty, it usually happens in specific circumstances.

  • A real possibility of jail time exists if you have multiple prior convictions of driving with a suspended license within 5 years of the current charge.
  • It’s rare that a first-time offender is jailed, but it can happen. For example, in the case of an accident involving injury or death, you could be facing jail time.

5/ Here’s why jail is possible

I’m often asked how you can go to jail if driving under suspension is not a criminal offence.

It has to do with deterrence.  

  • A car weighs 4,000 pounds. It’s like a weapon on wheels that can cause property damage, hurt or even kill people.
  • To protect the public from these “weapons on wheels,” laws were created to ensure that people are properly licensed.

And the penalties are harsh because the lawmakers want to create a deterrence to deter you from driving with a suspended license.

  • If you’re a first-time offender, generally, you’ll face some fines and a mandatory 6-month driving suspension.
  • But if you are a repeat offender, the lawmakers assume that fines and license suspensions are not enough of a deterrent.
  • And then they will put you in jail to significantly increase the deterrent factors.
Ontario’s Drive Suspend Penalty Calculator
Find Out Your Potential Drive Suspend Penalties in Just 30 Seconds!
Book a Free Call Today
Play Video about Nextlaw Drive Suspend Help Line - 1-855-487-0007
I’ll explain everything about your drive suspend charge and develop a strategy that keeps you driving and keeps your record clean!
Play Video about Nextlaw Drive Suspend Help Line - 1-855-487-0007
Book a Free Call Today
I’ll explain everything about your drive suspend charge and develop a strategy that keeps you driving and keeps your record clean!
5.0
431 Reviews
5
431
4
0
3
0
2
0
1
0
Ontario’s Drive Suspend Penalty Calculator™
Find Out Your Potential Drive Suspend Penalties in Just 30 Seconds!
About Dan Joffe, Partner
Play Video

Jonathan practices exclusively in defending Stunt Driving charges in Ontario.  He is the co-founding partner of Nextlaw and is licensed by the Law Society of Ontario.

Drive Suspend Articles
Share this Post
Disclaimer

Next Law publishes these articles and videos as a service to our website visitors for general informational purposes only. These materials do not, and are not, intended to, constitute legal advice. You should not act upon any such information without seeking professional counsel.