Driving While Suspended

Government considers driving a privilege that can be removed at anytime

Driver Licence Suspensions

Driving under suspension is a serious offence with significant legal implications including jail, high fines & further suspensions.

What is Driving Under Suspension

In Ontario, when a driver’s license is suspended, it means that the individual’s privilege to drive a motor vehicle on the Ontario roadways.

Except where the suspension is a criminal code suspension, most licence suspensions apply only to the Province of Ontario.

The suspension maybe due to various reasons such as, accumulating excessive demerit points, unpaid fines, criminal driving convictions or medical reasons or otherwise.  Driving any motor vehicle during this period is considered illegal and is termed as ‘driving under suspension.’

Suspended Driving Penalties

Legal Implications and Penalties: The consequences of driving under suspension in Ontario are severe and are enforced to discourage individuals from violating the terms of their suspension. The penalties include:

  • Fines: The fines for driving under suspension are substantial. For a first offense, individuals can face a fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Repeat offenders may face higher fines, with the minimum amount doubling for subsequent offenses.
  • Jail Time: Depending on the severity and the circumstances of the offense, individuals caught driving under suspension may face imprisonment. For a first offense, this can be up to six months, with longer sentences possible for repeat offenders.
  • Further License Suspension: If convicted, the suspension period of the driver’s license will be extended for 6 months or more, further delaying the individual’s ability to legally drive.
  • Vehicle Seizure and Impoundment: In some cases, the vehicle being driven by the suspended driver can be seized and impounded, regardless of whether it belongs to the driver or not.

Additional Consequences: Apart from the legal penalties, driving under suspension can have far-reaching consequences on a person’s life:

  • Increased Insurance Rates: Getting insurance coverage after a conviction for driving under suspension can be challenging and expensive. Insurance companies may increase premiums or classify the individual as a high-risk driver.
  • Employment Challenges: Certain professions that require a clean driving record may be off-limits, impacting the individual’s employment opportunities.
  • Record of Conviction: A conviction for driving under suspension goes on the individual’s driving record, which can have long-term implications.

Driving under suspension in Ontario is a significant legal offense with harsh penalties, including hefty fines, potential jail time, and further suspension of driving privileges. It also can lead to increased insurance rates and potential employment difficulties.



Types of Licence Suspensions

In Ontario, the privilege of driving can be suspended for a variety of reasons. The types of license suspensions include:

Understanding these grounds for suspension is crucial for drivers in Ontario, as it underscores the importance of responsible driving and adherence to traffic laws to maintain driving privileges and ensure safety on the roads.”

Driving While Suspended: Essential Elements

When a driver is discovered operating a motor vehicle while their license is suspended, they can be charged by a police officer with the offence of driving while suspended.

For this charge to be applied, certain conditions must be met by the police officer:

  • The driver must be found actively operating a motor vehicle.
  • This operation must occur on a public roadway.
  • The driver’s license should be confirmed as suspended at the time of the operation.
  • It must be established that the driver was, or reasonably should have been, aware of their license suspension.

Additionally, in cases where a charge of driving while suspended is issued, the police officer has the authority to impound the vehicle involved in the incident.



Insurance Implications

Being convicted for driving while suspended in Ontario can have profound implications on car insurance policies and premiums. These convictions often result in a significant increase in insurance rates, reflecting the heightened risk associated with such drivers. Key points include:

  • Dramatic Increase in Premiums: Upon conviction for driving while suspended, drivers should anticipate a substantial hike in their insurance rates. This increase is not marginal but can be dramatically high, often making insurance costs a significant financial burden.
  • Effect on Household: Where one driver on the policy or within the household has their licence suspended it may affect the other driver’s.  The insurance company believes that there is a risk that the suspended driver may operate other vehicles in the household
  • Classification as ‘High Risk’: One of the immediate consequences of such a conviction maybe the reclassification of the driver into a ‘high-risk’ category by insurance companies. This categorization is used for drivers who are perceived to not follow the rules and have a higher likelihood of being involved in incidents that could lead to insurance claims.
  • Perception of Increased Accident Risk: Insurance companies operate on the assessment of risk, and a conviction for driving while suspended signals to them a disregard for legal and safe driving practices. This leads to the perception that such drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents, which could result in costly claims for the insurance companies.
  • Difficulty in Finding Insurance Coverage: Post-conviction, finding an insurance provider willing to offer coverage can become more challenging. Some standard insurance companies might refuse to insure drivers with such a conviction, forcing them to seek coverage from providers specializing in high-risk insurance, often at considerably higher rates.

In summary, a conviction for driving while suspended does not just affect the legal standing of a driver in Ontario but also brings with it severe and long-lasting financial implications through increased insurance costs.

Reinstating Suspended Licences


Unpaid Fine Suspension

Where a licence has been suspended for an unpaid fine the driver must attend at any court house in Ontario and pay the fine.

Once the fine is paid the driver must attend at the Ministry of Transportation or Service Ontario offices and pay a “License Reinstatement Fee”, as of the date of this document the fee is $281.

Once the fine and reinstatement fee has been paid the clerks will advise the driver that it can take up to 4 days to remove the suspension.

The record of the suspension can/will be registered on the police and ministry databases during this time.  Some case law suggests that once the payments have been made that the suspension is not technically in effect but drivers are cautioned that insurance or police officers may still believe that the suspension is valid until removed from any database.


Unpaid Fine Payment Plans

Where the driver is unable to pay the fine in one payment, the driver may apply to the specific court where the fine was issued for a “motion to extend the time to pay a fine“.

The application may best be prepared and presented to the court by a licensed paralegal to ensure the application accepted by the court.


Medical Suspensions

Where a medical professional has sent notice to the ministry regarding the competency of a drivers ability, the ministry will suspend the licence.

The licence will be suspended until the driver satisfies the ministry with proof from a medical practitioner that they are medically fit to operate a motor vehicle.  Drivers must contact their doctor to receive this assessment which may include medical tests, blood work and any other documentation required by the ministry.

Where a driver having received the appropriate documentation still is unable to satisfy the ministry, the driver may file an appeal.

Medical licence appeals are filed to the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT), and drivers may best consider a paralegal with experience at this venue.


Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act (MVACA)

Where a driver has been involved in an accident and there is no insurance on the vehicle the victims of the incident may file a law suit against the owner and/or owner of the vehicle.

Once a judgment has be directed the plaintiffs may file the claim with the MVACA to receive compensation.  When a claim as been filed against the driver the licence shall be suspended.

To reinstate the licence the driver must pay back the fund in full.  The payment can be made in one payment or the driver may make instalment payments.

Information regarding the amount owed can be obtained by phoning, 416-250-1422 or toll-free: 1-800-268-7188 or E-mail: mvacf@ontario.ca or at this link.

In a payment agreement:

  • the minimum monthly payment is 10% of your gross monthly earnings
    • (a collections officer will establish the exact amount in consultation with you)
  • your first repayment must be made to the Fund before your driver’s licence can be reinstated
  • you will receive a statement 15 days before each subsequent repayment is due,
    • similar to credit card or utility bills
  • you will not be charged interest


To apply for a payment agreement the driver must complete:

  • Application for Restoration of Driver’s Licence
  • Notice of Collection of Personal Information
  • proof of income and expenses (for example, pay stubs, tax return and receipts)
  • if you own a vehicle, have your insurance company submit either
    • a Financial Responsibility Certificate (Form F5) for proof of insurance, or
    • F7 form if the policy is cancelled


Family Responsibility Act

If you fall behind in your support payments, the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) has the legal authority and responsibility to take enforcement action.

Family Responsibility will have send you a notice telling you your driver’s licence was at risk of being suspended.

You were given a deadline to do one of three things:

  1. immediately pay all the arrears owing
  2. enter into a voluntary arrears payment plan with FRO
  3. ask the court for a refraining order.


Where the driver did not do one of these three things, FRO will have suspended the licence.

To get your licence reinstated the driver must:

The phone number for the family responsibility office is 416-326-1817 or Toll-free at 1-800-267-4330.


Appeals

Where a driver has been convicted of an offence and has received a licence suspension, the driver may appeal the matter.

While the conviction is under appeal, the licence suspension is removed pending the decision of the appeal court.

An example of a licence appeal maybe where a novice driver makes an uninformed decision, and pays a traffic ticket that has a licence suspension.

The driver might in a appeal ask the justice to remove the conviction or ask that the conviction be changed to a conviction where upon there would be no licence suspension, for example:

  • G1 driver is convicted of drive on prohibited highway, and
  • charge is reduced to “drive in contravention of conditions”

The first charge has a 30 day licence suspension but the drive in contravention of conditions is a fine only, or

  • G1 driver pays ticket for 30km/h over limit
  • appeals conviction and pleads guilty to speeding 29km/h over the limit

The first charge has a 30 day licence suspension but the speeding 29km/h over the limit does not.

Appeals have rules that must be considered.

Drivers wishing to consider and appeal are best to obtain the services of a licensed paralegal to properly prepare and present the appeal.

Demerit Points

There are no demerit points lost or accumulated for the charge of driving while suspended.

Legal Definition

Driving While Suspended – Highway Traffic Act section 53

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,

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

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

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

Subsequent offence
(2) Where a person who has previously been convicted of an offence under subsection (1) is convicted of the same offence within five years after the date of the previous conviction, the offence for which he or she is last convicted shall be deemed to be a subsequent offence for the purpose of clause (1) (b).

Same
(2.1) Where a person who has previously been convicted of an offence under subsection (1.1) is convicted of the same offence within five years after the date of the previous conviction, the offence for which he or she is last convicted shall be deemed to be a subsequent offence for the purpose of clause

Licence suspended
(3) The driver’s licence of a person who is convicted of an offence under subsection (1) or (1.1) is thereupon suspended for a period of six months in addition to any other period for which the licence is suspended, and consecutively thereto.


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