When a person is charged or convicted of a driving-related offence under the Criminal Code or Highway Traffic Act, one of the possible sanctions is a licence suspension. If you are charged with an impaired driving offence, an immediate roadside suspension can result. Other offences result in a mandatory driving prohibition upon conviction. The Ministry of Ontario can also suspend your driver’s licence when you fail to comply with court-ordered sanctions or if you have a medical conviction that poses a safety risk.
What is a Licence Suspension?
A licence suspension prevents you from being able to operate a motor vehicle for a specified period of time (or, in some cases, for life). Depending on the offence, your licence can be suspended at the roadside, or imposed upon conviction. With some offences, a finding of guilt will result in a mandatory licence or driving prohibition. Where the suspension is not mandatory, defence counsel can initiate discussions with the Crown Attorney to avoid a suspension. If one’s licence is suspended, this will go on his or her Ontario Driving Record. The following offences will result in an immediate suspension at the roadside or police station:
- Driving Over 80 (90 day suspension under the HTA);
- Failure or Refusal to Comply with Demand (90 day suspension under the HTA)
- Failure or Refusal to perform a physical coordination test (90 day suspension under the HTA)
The following Criminal Code offences will also result in a licence suspension upon conviction:
- Driving Over 80;
- 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; and
- Failing to stop for police
The length of the suspension will depend on whether it is a first offence. A first offence results in a suspension of one year whereas subsequent offences result in increased penalties, all the way to a life-time driving ban.
Can My Licence Be Suspended Even if I’m Not Charged with a Criminal Offence?
It is important to note that a person can receive a licence suspension without being charged under the Criminal Code. There are many offences under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act that can result in licence suspensions.
For example, even though it is not a criminal offence to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) of under 0.8%, if someone is found to be driving with a BAC in the “warn range” (0.5 – 0.8%), they will still receive an immediate roadside suspension of:
- Three days for a first occurrence;
- Seven days for a second occurrence (plus a requirement to participate in an alcohol-education program); and
- Increased penalties for any subsequent occurrence.
Certain offences under the Highway Traffic Act now also impose mandatory licence suspensions on conviction. For example, if convicted of stunt driving, the mandatory penalties are as follows:
- If a first offence: minimum of 1 year suspension, up to a maximum of 3 years;
- On a second offence: minimum of 3 years, up to a maximum of 10 years;
- On a third or subsequent offence: a suspension for life
The Ministry of Transportation also has the right to suspend one’s driver’s licence if a person:
- fails to pay a court-ordered traffic fine;
- fails to comply with judgements under other acts, such as the Family Responsibility Act; or
- has a medical condition that may affect their ability to operate a vehicle safely (In Ontario, doctors are required to report such information, with regards to people age 16 or older, to the Ministry of Transportation).
The information above provides a general overview of licence suspensions and the types of conduct that can result in a suspension. However, no two cases are alike. Every criminal case is fact-specific and ranges in complexity, depending on the issues at play.
Are You Facing a Licence Suspension? Contact our office today at 416-924-5969 to learn more about how we can help you. Our team of lawyers is prepared to conduct a thorough review of your situation and develop an approach that is tailored to your needs. Obtaining proper legal representation is the first step in preparing a successful defence.