Driving Under Suspension. What Do I Do Now?

You're facing a 6-month driving suspension, huge fines, and up to 6-months in jail.  Try Ontario's free Drive Suspend Penalty Calculator and let's stop that from happening.

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Ontario’s Drive Suspend Penalty Calculator

The 30-Second Ontario Drive Suspend test will help calculate the penalties you will be facing from the prosecutor in court

Do You Want to Keep Driving?
My name is Dan Joffe, Criminal Lawyer. My team uses a proven forensic analysis of the Crown’s evidence against you. This can lead to getting your charges withdrawn.

Your ability to keep driving depends on what comes next.  I’ll explain everything about your traffic charge and develop a strategy that will change everything – FREE!

Do You Want to Keep Driving?

Your ability to keep driving depends on what comes next.  I’ll explain everything about your traffic charge and develop a strategy that will change everything – FREE!

Below is our Driving While Suspended info & video guide.
(But we can explain much clearer by getting in touch with us directly by clicking below)

CHAPTER 1

What is a Driving While Suspended charge in Ontario?

Understand the law.  To know how to fight a Driving While Suspended charge in Ontario, it’s important to understand the law that you have been charged under.

You have been charged with “Driving Under Suspension,” under section 53(1) of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.

  • When you drive, there are lots of laws you need to follow. Many of those laws can be found under the “Ontario Highway Traffic Act.”
  • In your case, you have been charged under section 53(1), which means a police officer believes you drove while your driver’s license was under suspension.
  • You can read the exact language of the charge here.

What is a Driving While Suspended charge in Ontario?

  • Unless you have been convicted in court, your charge is an allegation that is not yet proven.

You will need to appear in court – When you were charged, the police gave you a summons to appear in court.

  • You got what looks like a standard traffic ticket. Depending on how the officer laid the charge, it can be a simple ticket, or it can be a summons compelling you to appear in court.
  • On the summons, the police officer will have written the date, the time and the location of the court where you need to appear.
  • The court date may be online. Due to COVID-19, many court dates will not be in person.  If that’s the case, the court will inform you how to attend your court date virtually.

Your court appearance is NOT your trial date – The summons directs you to appear in court for a court date called the “First Appearance.”

  • The “First Appearance” is NOT a trial. This court date is the first time you appear before the court for your Driving While Under Suspension charge.
  • The legal process for your Driving Under Suspension charge may take multiple court appearances before your case is resolved.
  • The complete legal process may take days, weeks, months, sometimes over a year to resolve.

Read below, Chapter 8, for more about the legal process you face when you get a Driving While Suspended charge.

Your vehicle may have been towed, and you are responsible for costs associated with the towing.

CHAPTER 2

What are the penalties for Driving Under Suspension in Ontario?
The penalties for Driving Under Suspension in Ontario are severe. 

The penalties for Driving Under Suspension are found in section 53(1) of the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario.  (Click here to read the penalties as they are written in the Highway Traffic Act.)

Here is a summary of the penalties:
  • Mandatory 6-month drivers suspension – Upon conviction, there is a mandatory 6-month driver’s suspension in Ontario.

    • It does not matter if you have to drive for work. Or if you have to drive for your family. Or if you have to drive for health reasons.
    • It’s a 6-month driver’s license suspension. No exceptions.
  • Fines – Possible fines range from a minimum $1,000 CAD to $5,000 CAD. And there is an additional 25% Victim Fine Surcharge.
  • Probation – Possible probation. Up to 2 years.
  • Jail – Possible jail time. Up to 6-months in jail.

    • The Prosecutor will typically seek jail time in circumstances when you have multiple prior convictions of driving under suspension.
    • If you have never been to jail for this charge, the Prosecutor will typically seek a few days to a few weeks.
    • With each future conviction, the Prosecutor will seek additional jail time. Up to 6-months for each conviction.

Driving Under Suspension. What Do I Do Now?

Your insurance rates will dramatically increase. 

When you are convicted of Driving While Under Suspension, your insurance company will place you in a “high-risk” category.  And the impact of being “high-risk” will be dramatic insurance rate increases.

And, it is possible that your insurance company will cancel your insurance coverage as a result of a conviction.

Can you go to jail for Driving While Under Suspension?

Yes.  You can go to jail for Driving While Under Suspension for up to 6 months for each conviction.

Why are the penalties for Driving While Under Suspension so harsh?

The penalties are severe because Driving While Under Suspension in Ontario is considered a “public safety” offence.  Here’s what that means.

  • A typical car weighs about 4,000 pounds (or about 1,800 kilograms). That is a lot of weight to be moving on a set of wheels.
  • Don’t think of it as a car. Think of your vehicle as a weapon.  A 4,000- pound weapon. That can kill a person.  That can put someone in a wheelchair. That can cause property damage.
  • In the context of driving a 4,000 weapon, the lawmakers in Queen’s Park in Toronto, made a public policy decision. They simply do not want people driving a vehicle with a suspended license. Doing so poses a real danger to society (remember, think of a 4,000-pound weapon).
  • Because Driving Under Suspension is considered a danger to the public, the lawmakers treat this charge differently and more harshly than a typical traffic ticket. The charge is classified under Part III of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. This section deals with public safety threats.
  • Severe penalties are given because the lawmakers only want people to drive that are allowed to do so and follow the rules. Which means you need to be properly licensed. If you are suspended, you can’t drive.  And if you do drive, the province is going to punish you.
  • Yes, the province will take your license for 6-months. Yes, the lawmakers know this is harsh.  Yes, the lawmakers know that you might lose your job.  And, if you lose your job, then you lose your ability to feed yourself and your family.  Yes, the lawmakers know that. But, that is the price you will pay when you pose a risk to the public.
  • And, if you keep driving, they will put you in jail. Harsh?  Yes, but again, you’re driving a 4,000-pound weapon.  And, if fines and suspensions are not going to stop you from driving (after you have been convicted), then jail time may teach you the lesson you need to keep you off the roads.
Why are the penalties listed as a range and not fixed?  (For example, there are fines up to $5,000, or probation, or jail time up to 6 months.)

The penalties for Driving While Under Suspension in Ontario are purposely defined by the lawmakers as a range.  In other words, the penalties are not fixed. 

This is very different than the penalties for simple “traffic tickets” such as speeding under section 128 of the Highway Traffic Act.  With simple speeding, the fines and demerit point penalties are fixed.  There is no discretion with what your penalty is going to be. 

However, if you are charged with Driving Under Suspension, the penalties that you are subject to have a very wide range.  These penalties are NOT fixed because of the severity of the Driving Under Suspension charge.  The more severe your case is, the more severe the penalty will be.

Who decides on when the penalty will be?

The Justice of the Peace is the final decision maker on what your penalty will be. 

However, the Prosecutor (who is the person working for the Ontario government that is in charge of prosecuting the case against you), does have a say in what the penalty will be.  But, ultimately, it’s the Justice of the Peace who will decide.

What factors go into the decision about what the penalty will be?

There are many factors that go into the decision making process about what your Driving Under Suspension penalty will be.  Some of these factors include:

  • Whether you have previous convictions of Driving While Under Suspension. Previous convictions are a critical factor in determining the penalty. 
  • Generally, what your driving record looks like.
  • If there was an accident. And if there was, was anyone hurt or killed.
  • How your interactions were with the Police officer. Confrontational actions will factor into the penalty.
Can you get convicted of Driving While Under Suspension but not be subject to the 6 month driving suspension?

No.  The 6 month driving suspension is mandatory.

There are no exceptions to this rule because the 6 month driving suspension penalty is written into the law.  And there is no person that has the legal power to remove that 6 month driving suspension part of the penalty.

CHAPTER 3

Is Driving While Under Suspension a criminal offence in Ontario?

No.  The charge of Driving While Under Suspension is a law under the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario. 

  • These are traffic offences, and Driving Under Suspension, is a very serious offence, but it is not a criminal offence.
  • So, if you are convicted for Driving While Under Suspension, you do NOT get a criminal record because it is not a criminal offence.

How can you go to jail for a Driving While Suspended charge that is not a criminal charge?

  • When the lawmakers write the laws, they have the power in some situations, to include potential jail time as penalty, even if the charge is not a criminal charge. Driving While Under Suspension is one of those cases.
  • It’s all about deterrence. A vehicle on wheels is a 4,000 pound weapon on wheels that can cause serious property damage and can injure and kill people.  To deter people from driving without a valid license, the law makers include potential jail time as a deterrence. 
Are there driving suspension offences that are criminal offences?

Yes.  There are driving related Criminal offences defined in the Criminal Code of Canada.  Because these offences are in the Criminal Code, they have much more severe penalties than those under the Highway Traffic Act.

The common driving related criminal offences are:

Criminal Negligence under Section 219 of the Criminal Code.  This charge is defined as any one showing “wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.”

Dangerous Operations of Vehicles under Section 249(1) of the Criminal Code.  This charge is laid when a person is driving a vehicle in a manner that is “dangerous to the public”. 

Failure to Stop at the Scene of an Accident under Section 252 of the Criminal Code.  If a person operating a vehicle is involved in an accident does not stop, or provide identification or offer assistance, then the driver can be subject to this charge.

Street Racing under Section 249.2 of the Criminal Code.  Under the Highway Traffic Act, you can be charged with Racing.  However, in more serious circumstances, you can be charged criminally with street racing.

Driving While Disqualified under Section 259 of the Criminal Code. 

And, there are a series of criminal charges associated with Impaired Driving which include Operation of a Vehicle While Impaired (Section 249), Impaired Driving Causing Bodily Harm (Section 253) and Impaired Driving Causing Death (Section 253).

Under what circumstances will a Justice of the Peace give you jail time?

The focus is how many prior convictions of Driving While Under Suspension you have. 

Generally, on a first conviction, there is a fine only, and a 6-month driving suspension.

On a second conviction, there is an increased fine and another 6-month driving suspension.

However, on a third conviction, jail becomes a possibility.  And, the more prior convictions you have on your record, the more jail time you may received.

Can you get more than 6 months jail time for a conviction of Driving While Under Suspension.

No.  The maximum jail time you can get is 6 months in jail.

However, that maximum jail time is for ONE conviction. 

If you have MORE than one conviction, then the maximum jail time is potentially 6 months for EACH conviction.  So if you have 2 convictions, then jail up to 1-year (in other words, 6 months for each conviction, is a possibility).

CHAPTER 4

What Impact does a Driving While Under Suspension conviction have on your insurance?

Bottom line.  A conviction on a Driving While Under Suspension charge in Ontario will significantly impact your insurance payments.

  • The reason all has to do with risk. Insurance companies decide on how much you will pay based on your driving risk profile.  The higher the risk, the higher the premium.
  • Driving While Under Suspension is one of the most serious driving offences under the Highway Traffic Act. The insurance companies know this.  And the serious nature of the charge will be reflected in what you pay in premiums.
Can insurance companies check your driving record?

Yes.  Insurance companies price your insurance based on how risky a driver you are.  And, one of the most important ways they assess how risky a driver you are, is based on your driving record.

Can insurance companies refuse to insure you?

Yes.  When you are convicted of Driving While Under Suspension, you are considered a “high-risk” driver.  An insurance company may then decide that you are too risky of a driver and may refuse to insure you.

How far back do insurance companies look at your driving record in Ontario?

3 Years.  Your Driving While Under Suspension charge will remain on your driving record (for insurance consideration purposes), for three years. 

CHAPTER 5

How can you beat your Driving While Under Suspension charge in Ontario?

Anyone can fight their Driving While Under Suspension charge.

And it may be possible to win.  And in some cases, it may be possible to get your charges withdrawn, even if you’re guilty. 

How can you get your Driving While Under Suspension charge withdrawn (or dismissed)?

If there is a big mistake with your charge, it may get withdrawn.

And, there are 2 types of mistakes that can happen with your charge:  Fatal Errors, and Minor Errors.

  • If your charge has a “Fatal Error”.

    • These are errors that would impact the core of the charge itself.
    • These mistakes cannot be fixed.
    • Your charge would be withdrawn. Your case would be over!
  • If your charge has “Minor Error”.

    • These errors can be fixed by the court. And, the case against you continues.

How can you beat your Driving While Under Suspension charge in Ontario?

Where can you find the mistakes?

In your disclosure!  The disclosure is all the evidence that the court has against you and will be used to prosecute the case against you. 

  • These mistakes are typically found in your disclosure. That’s why it’s so important to get your disclosure and read it over.
  • Something missing? If you believe there is some evidence or information that is missing, then you should request to get that missing information. Speak to the Prosecutor to find out how to order the missing disclosure.

The Prosecutor, upon seeing the Fatal Error, may decide to withdraw the charge.

Or the Justice of the Peace, upon seeing a Fatal Error, may rule that the charge be dismissed.

What are your chances of getting the charges withdrawn?

Be realistic.  It’s a small chance that your charge may have a “fatal error”, but it does happen. And it’s worth finding out.

CHAPTER 6

I have a reason why I was driving. Can I use this reason as a defence to fight my Driving While Under Suspension charge?

There are valid defences to fight a Driving While Under Suspension charge.

However, most “excuses” are NOT defences.  Because a Driving While Under Suspension charge is a public safety offence, the lawmakers made it very difficult to “win” these cases.  That means most excuses won’t get you off this charge.

Excuse #1 – “I did not know my drivers license was suspended.”

No, this is NOT a defence.

  • Many people charged with Driving While Under Suspension didn’t know that their license was suspended. If they knew about the license suspension, then they wouldn’t drive.
  • You are supposed to get notice of your suspension from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. But you didn’t get it. Maybe you moved. Or, didn’t get your mail.  Or, someone picked up notice and didn’t give it to you.
  • It does NOT matter whether you GOT the notice. The Prosecutor only needs to prove that was generated. 
  • Yes, this is frustrating. And, people are angry.  There have been some media about this issue of notice.  Changes may be coming, but they are not yet the law.

I have a reason why I was driving. Can I use this reason as a defence to fight my Driving While Under Suspension charge?

Excuse #2 – “I can’t lose my drivers license for 6-months.  I have to drive for work … for my family … for medical reasons …  Losing my drivers license for 6-months will be devastating.  I will lose everything.”

No, this is NOT a defence.

  • Many clients have to drive for work. Or, for their family.  Or for medical reasons.  And losing a driver’s license can be devastating to your personal and work life.
  • However, the penalties for Driving While Under Suspension are severe for a reason.
  • The lawmakers want to send a b message to the public that you have to follow the rules of the road. And if you don’t follow the rules, then you will face serious consequences.
Excuse #3 – “I can’t lose my drivers license and pay crazy insurance rates. 

No, this is NOT a defence.

See logic above.

Excuse #4 – “I knew my license was suspended, but I drove only because I had an emergency.”

No, this is NOT a defence. 

See logic above.

Excuse #5 – “My license was suspended for a small, unpaid ticket (that I totally forgot about).”

No, this is NOT a defence. 

The fact that the ticket that suspended you was a small dollar amount, does not matter legally.  See logic above.

Excuse #6 – “I didn’t commit a crime.  The penalties are crazy.”

No, this is NOT a defence.

Yes, the penalties are severe because the lawmakers want “responsible” drivers on the road.  And for those people that do not drive responsibly, the law will punish them appropriately.

CHAPTER 7

Who are the people that will be involved in my Driving While Under Suspension case?

To get the best outcome for your Driving While Under Suspension charge, it’s important to know the people involved in your case.

How does our court system work?

Our court system works like a “boxing match” or “MMA fight.”

Our court system is designed to have two people fighting it out with a referee to make sure each side is following the rules. And, that referee will also decide on the outcome of your case.

Who are the people that matter in my Driving While Under Suspension case?

Who are the people involved in my Ontario Driving under Suspension case?

There are 3 important people that matter in your case.

  • Important Person #1: You – You have been charged under the Highway Traffic Act. You are known as the “Defendant.”
    • You can either defend yourself or have a lawyer or paralegal defend you.
    • If you have a lawyer or paralegal defend you, it’s important to make sure that they are licensed by the Law Society in Ontario and their license is in good standing.
  • Important Person #2: The Prosecutor – The Prosecutor is representing the Ontario government. If your case goes to trial, then the Police Officer will be asked to attend your trial to provide the evidence.
  • Important Person #3: The Justice of the Peace – The Justice of the Peace is the “referee.”
    • The Justice of the Peace will decide your case’s outcome (whether you are guilty or not guilty).
    • If you are found guilty, that Justice of the Peace will also decide on the penalty or sentence against you.
    • And, if your case does not go to trial but is resolved by a plea agreement, then the Justice of the Peace will need to approve the plea agreement and will be the final decision maker regarding the penalty.
What role does each person play in my Driving While Under Suspension case?

These 3 important people each have an important role in your Driving While Under Suspension case.

  • Your Role – You have been charged. Your job is to defend yourself against the charge. If you hire a lawyer (or paralegal), your lawyer’s job will be to defend you.
  • The Prosecutor’s Role – The Prosecutor is NOT your friend. Yes, they may be nice. They may be pleasant to deal with. But their job is NOT to be your friend. His or her job is to convict you of the charge.  First, the Prosecutor needs to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to prove the charges against you. If there is, then the charges against you will proceed.
  • The Justice of the Peace’s Role – He or she is the “referee” in your fight.
    • The Justice of the Peace is NOT advocating for you.
    • The Justice of the Peace is NOT advocating for the Prosecutor.
    • The Justice of the Peace is like a referee. The Justice of the Peace is there to make sure that all the rules are being followed.
    • And, the Justice of the Peace will be the one who decides whether you are guilty or not.

Chapter 8

How much power does the Prosecutor have in your Driving While Under Suspension case?
The prosecutor has a lot of power in your case.

As you read above, the Prosecutor is not your friend.

The Prosecutor’s job is to convict you of the Driving While Under Suspension charge.

Convicting You (Sorry, It’s Pretty Easy)

  • It’s the Prosecutor job to prove you committed the offence of Driving While Under Suspension according to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.
  • Unfortunately for you, it’s relatively easy to convict you of this charge.
  • Generally, the Prosecutor needs to prove that at the time of the offence, your license was suspended. And, that notice of your suspension was generated by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
  • The lawmakers want to send a b message to the public that they don’t want people driving with a suspended license. So, they wrote the law in a way to make it easy to convict.

But, that’s not the end of the story (and this part is REALLY important)

  • The Prosecutor needs to make 2 decisions.
  • 1st Decision – Whether they have enough evidence to get a conviction (generally, pretty easy to do in these cases).
  • 2nd Decision – Even if there is sufficient evidence, they need to decide whether “it is in the interest of justice” to pursue the charge given the circumstances.
  • This 2nd decision is REALLY important because the law gives the Prosecutor the power to decide whether to move ahead with the charge.
  • If they move ahead, then that means on conviction, you are going to lose your license for 6 months, and in some cases, you may be going to jail.
  • If, however, the Prosecutor decides it does NOT make sense to move ahead, the Prosecutor may then offer you a lesser charge. One that has NO license suspension.
  • Sounds good, right? It does sound good because it is good.
  • However, the Prosecutor is the ONLY person who can decide where to offer you a lesser charge (which means NO license suspension).
  • That is WHY the Prosecutor has a lot of power. The Prosecutor will determine when you keep your driver’s license (or not).

How much power does the Prosecutor have in your Driving While Under Suspension case?

Bottom line?

  • The Prosecutor matters. A lot.
  • If the Prosecutor decides NOT to give you a break, well, that is NOT good.
  • But, it’s NOT over!!!! It may be possible to convince the Prosecutor why it does make sense to give you a break.
  • Getting the Prosecutor to change their mind does happen. But, there are a lot of factors that go into making that decision.
  • Obviously the facts of your case matter. But there are other factors that may play a huge role in the Prosecutor’s decision. These include the jurisdiction in which you were charged and who the Prosecutor is.
  • Get free advice, call a lawyer. The good news is that you can get free consultations.

Chapter 9

What is the legal process you face when you get a Driving While Under Suspension charge?
What should I expect when going to court for my Driving While Under Suspension charge?

The most important thing to remember with any charge – whether you’ve been charged with Driving While Under Suspension, — is that you are presumed innocent.

  • It’s the government’s job to prove you are guilty. You do not need to prove you are innocent.
  • To prove the charges against you, the government must go through a very specific legal process. This legal process starts with what is called a “first appearance.”
How long does it take for my Driving While Under Suspension charge to proceed against me in the courts?

The charges against you will take time. The legal process does not happen overnight. However, the courts cannot take forever to prosecute the case against you.

  • Generally, the courts have up to 18-months to bring the charges against you to trial. If your case goes beyond that 18-month time period, it may be possible to get your charges withdrawn because your right to have your case heard within a reasonable period of time has been breached. This is a constitutional argument that you should speak to your lawyer about.
What are the key court appearances that I will face during my legal process?

As your case proceeds through the court system in Ontario, you will face a series of court dates that include:

What are the key court appearances for my Ontario Driving While Suspended charge?

  • First Appearance – This is the first time you appear before the court. It’s not a trial.

    Read more about your “First Appearance” below in Chapter 9.

  • To Be Spoken To or Set Date Appearances – The case against you will take time. For example, your lawyer needs to get all the evidence, prepare a defence, etc. The same is true of the Prosecutor prosecuting the case against you. They need time to prepare the case against you, respond to your lawyer, etc. The courts require updates to the process to ensure the process is moving forward. These court updates are heard in court, and these court dates are called “To Be Spoken To” or “Set Appearance” court dates.
  • Judicial Pre-Trial – In some cases, you may have a formal court date called a judicial-pre-trial. This court date is effectively a resolution meeting between you and the Prosecutor.  If a lawyer represents you, then the meeting will happen between the Prosecutor and your lawyer.  At this meeting, the issues surrounding your case will be discussed. Potential case resolutions will also be discussed.
  • Trial – A trial is where the charges against you will be heard in a courtroom in front of a Justice of the Peace.
  • Sentencing – If you are found guilty (or enter a guilty plea), generally, the Justice of the Peace will immediately decide on the penalty. In some cases, the Justice of the Peace will decide on the penalty at a future court date. 
What is disclosure?

Disclosure is all the evidence that the Prosecutor will use against you as they try to convict you on your charge.

Disclosure includes all the Police Officer notes, witness statements, and technical documents including the notes regarding the radar device.

Am I entitled to all the evidence in my case?

Yes.

And, it’s important to know that the disclosure you get at your First Appearance may not be complete.

And it is critical to get complete disclosure to properly assess your case’s strengths and weaknesses to mount an effective defence.

Chapter 10

What do I need to know about going to court for the first time?

Your first court date is called a “First Appearance”.  This is the first time you will appear before the court for your Driving While Suspended charge.

When you were charged with Driving While Under Suspension, the police officer gave you a summons with your court details for your first appearance.  The details will include the date, time and the court where you need to appear. 

Due to COVID-19, many court dates will not be in person.  If that’s the case, the court will inform you on how to virtually attend your court date.

Here is a list of most of the courts which handle Driving While Under Suspension charges.

Barrie, Belleville, Bracebridge – Muskoka, Brampton, Brockville – Leeds & Grenville, Caledon East, Cayuga – Haldimand,Chatham – Kent, Cobourg – Northumberland, Cochrane, Cornwall – Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry, Durham, Dryden, Elliot Lake, Espanola, Fort Frances, Goderich – Huron, Gore Bay, Guelph, Haileybury – Temiskaming Shores, Halton Region (Burlington – Halton Hills – Milton – Oakville), Hamilton, Kenora, Kingston, Kitchener – Cambridge – Waterloo Region, Lindsay – Kawartha Lakes, London, Mississauga, Napanee – Lennox & Addington, Newmarket – York Region, North Bay, Orangeville, Orillia, Ottawa, Owen Sound / Walkerton – Grey Bruce, Parry Sound, Pembroke – Renfrew, Perth, Peterborough, Picton – Prince Edward County, Richmond Hill, Sarnia, Sault Ste. Marie, Simcoe – Norfolk, St. Catharines – Niagara Region, Stratford – Perth,  Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Toronto East, Toronto South, Toronto West, Welland – Niagara Region, Windsor, Woodstock – Oxford. 

You can find a complete address list of Provincial Offences courts here

What is going to happen at my First Appearance in court?

Here’s what’s going to happen at court appearance for your charge.

Meet the Prosecutor and get your evidence – You are going to meet with the Prosecutor.  And, that Prosecutor is going to give you the evidence, which will be put into your Disclosure.

Your meeting with the Prosecutor may be very brief because you are simply checking in to let the court know that you are there.  In some cases, there may be time to speak with the Prosecutor about your case.  Whether there is time (or not) to speak about your case is the decision of the Prosecutor.

After meeting with the Prosecutor, you have 3 options to consider for the next steps.

  • Option #1 – You can enter a guilty plea. The case will end that day.  Most of the time, the penalties (e.g. fines, demerit points, driving suspension, etc.), will start that day.
  • Option #2 – Set a trial date. You can fight the Driving While Under Suspension charge and set a trial date.
  • Option #3 – Get a delay (usually 3 to 6 weeks) to get legal advice.

There is NO downside to ask for this delay.  It’s important to understand the charge you are facing, the evidence the court has against you and the penalties that you face.  Take the time to make an informed decision.

Lastly, a new court date will be set.  Assuming you did not enter a guilty plea, you will appear before the Justice of the Peace and a new court date will be set.

  • That new court date will either be to give you the time to get legal advice. Or, you will have set a trial date.
  • In either case, it’s important to get the proper legal advice to make an informed decision.
What is the difference between disclosure and evidence?

Practically, they are the same thing.

Evidence are the facts upon which the prosecution will use to try to prove the Driving While Under Suspension charges against you.

Disclosure is the “package” of evidence that will be given to you at your first appearance. 

Disclosure typically includes a synopsis of the police summary of the case against you, the police officer’s notes, witness statements and a screening form (which an offer for resolution).

Why is disclosure so important in my Driving While Under Suspension case?

  • Because the penalties are so serious (read above), our legal system is designed to give you everything you need to defend yourself properly.
  • The only way to properly defend yourself is to get all the evidence that the province has against you.
  • Once you get that evidence, you can see the strengths and weaknesses of the case against you. You can then make an informed decision on how you want to proceed with your case.  And, if you decide to fight the charges, you can then put together a proper strategy to fight the charge (because you have all the evidence).
  • The only way to guarantee that you get your evidence is to force you to go to court, i.e. to force you to go to your first appearance.

Why is there a delay after getting charged with Driving While Under Suspension and my first court date?

  • First appearances are usually scheduled for 4 to 6 weeks after the police charge you. This time delay allows the police to properly gather all the evidence that has to be included in your disclosure.

Can I get all the evidence against me?

Yes.

You legally have the right to get all the evidence that the court has against you. 

Getting all your evidence is NOT a choice of the prosecutor or the court.  The court must give you all the evidence.  If you do not get all the evidence, it may be possible to get the charges against you withdrawn.

Will all the evidence be ready at my first appearance?

Maybe.

Occasionally, the evidence against you may not be ready by the time you arrive at your first appearance.

In this case the court will set another court date to give the court and the prosecutor more time to get the evidence.

However, if after a few court dates you still don’t have your disclosure, the Justice of the Peace may dismiss the charges against you.

When I get my disclosure, is that all the evidence?

Not necessarily.  And this is a very important point to know.

Even when you get your disclosure, that does not mean that you have all the evidence against you.  In fact, your disclosure package may be missing some key evidence. 

If you suspect there is missing evidence, you can ask the court and the prosecutor, for that additional evidence.

Getting ALL your evidence is critical for you to be able to make an informed decision on how you want to proceed with your case.

Will the Police Officer that charged me be at my First Appearance in court?

No.

The Police Officer is not required to be at your First Appearance. If your case goes to trial, then yes, the Police Officer that charged you will be called upon to give the evidence that he or she has against you.

Is this First Appearance my trial date?

No.  Your “First Appearance” is not a trial.  It’s the first time you appear before the court for your Driving While Under Suspension charge.

If you decide to go to trial, then your trial date will be set at some point in the future.  That date may be days, weeks, or many months in the future. But your trial will NOT happen on your first appearance.

Do I have to attend my First Appearance?

If you have hired a lawyer, then no. You do not need to attend your First Appearance because your lawyer will attend on your behalf.

If you have not hired a lawyer, then yes. You will need to attend your First Appearance.

Can I have someone who is not a licensed lawyer attend on my behalf?

Maybe.  For the first appearance, you may be able to have someone attend on your behalf.  However, you should give that person written permission that they are allowed to attend on your behalf and include the reason why you are not able to attend.

BONUS

Pro Tips – How to Make Your Court Appearance Go Smoothly
Tip #1 – What to bring to your court date

  • If it’s your first appearance, bring the court summons or ticket the police officer gave to you when you got charged. This is helpful in the event the court cannot find your file.
  • If you have any evidence that contradicts your charge, bring that too and show it to the Prosecutor.
Tip #2 – Get there early
  • The earlier you get to court, the earlier you will be able to leave. This is especially true with busier courts.
  • Try to get there at least 30 minutes before start time.
Tip #3 – Confirm you are on the court docket
  • With every court date, there is a list of everyone that needs to appear. That list is called a “court docket”.
  • Confirm you are on the list. Sometimes you are not. If you are not on the court docket, don’t leave. Show the Prosecutor the summons and ask what you should do next.
Tip #4 – Get in line
  • When you get to court, make sure you find the line. It’s common for people to show up early and not get in the right line.  Or, wait around while other people form a line. 
  • If you miss the right line, this may add a few hours to your time in court.
Tip #5 – It may take hours
  • Be prepared to be in court for hours. Hopefully, it will be quick, but you never know.
Tip #6 – Keep your emotions in check.  Even if you’re angry.
  • Getting charged is stressful.
  • But it’s important to keep your emotions in check. Everyone in the court has a job to do. You are now in a legal process and you need to ride it out.
Tip #7 – Make sure you stay after meeting with the Prosecutor.
  • After you meet with the Prosecutor, you cannot leave.
  • You must have your case heard before a Justice of the Peace.
Tip #8 – Take notes
  • Make sure you get the prosecutor’s name. And if possible, their contact information.
  • And, take note of your next court date appearance (date, time and courtroom). The courts will NOT send you notice of your next date so you need to write that down.
How Do I Fight a Drive Under Suspension Charge?

The most effective way to fight the charge is to hire an experienced lawyer. The results of your Drive Suspended charges rest with analyzing your disclosure or evidence, speaking with the prosecutor and determining the next steps. An experienced legal professional knows best how to navigate the complex court system to minimize the penalties for your charges.

How Does a Drive Suspended charge Affect Insurance Increases?

A Driving While Under Suspension charge (section 53 of the Highway Traffic Act) is a very damaging conviction on your driving abstract. For insurance companies, this is a serious moving violation, and could result in dramatic increases or possible outright refusal of insurance.

How Long does a Drive Suspended charge stay on your record?

Generally, driving infractions will affect your insurance policy for up to 3 years. As far as your driving abstract, it will always remain.

How Do I Get Driving Suspended Charge Dropped?

In order to get your charges dropped, there would have to be a fatal error in the province's disclosure or evidence. If this is the case, a legal professional would argue to have the charges dismissed.

A 6-month suspension will destroy your ability to work and take care of family.
You deserve better.
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