Suspended license

UNDERSTANDING YOUR CHARGE

In order to convict you, the prosecution will have to prove, under section 53 of the Highway Traffic Act that:

(1) your driver's license was suspended;
(2) that while it suspended, you were driving (see R v. Charles (2017)).
 
According to R v. Montgomery (2006), driving while under suspension is a strict liability offence. This means that the prosecution does not have to prove that you knew that you were under suspension. Nonetheless, the prosecution often does attempt to prove this at trial, referring to section 52(2) of the Highway Traffic Act. 
 

POTENTIAL DEFENCES

Licenses can be suspended because of an accumulation of demerit points or because you failed to pay a fine.

Given the seriousness of driving under suspension, if you are able to prove that you reasonably did not believe your driver's license was suspended at the time you were caught (i.e. you were not served), you may have a potential defence. You will have to assert that you exercised due diligence – i.e., that you were not negligent in relation to finding out whether your licence was under suspension. Evidence that you did not receive a Notice of Suspension mailed by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles would be vital to your defence if you did not receive notification. However, this is a very rare occurrence.
 
A Justice of the Peace more than likely will assess whether you were negligent in your obligations to make yourself aware of the possibility of a suspension. For example, as stated in R v. Charles (2017), a Justice can reject your evidence if having received a ticket you had not picked up your mail, you had not opened or read your mail, you did not provide a forwarding address or you moved and had not updated your information with the Ministry.
 
Given the severity of the charge, you should consider a plea deal, or consulting with a paralegal.