How Can I Get My Driving While Disqualified Charges Dropped?
If you are caught operating a motor vehicle (or vessel or aircraft) while a previous court-ordered disqualification remains in place, you will likely be charged with driving while disqualified.
It is considered so serious because the Court views it as a clear disregard of a judicial order.
Accordingly, the consequences of a conviction are severe and far-reaching:
- It is an indictable offence (though it is most commonly prosecuted as a summary offence)
- You are liable for prison time up to five years
- You will have a criminal record for the rest of your life
Your best chance of avoiding these harsh penalties is, of course, not to be convicted in the first place.
So how do you get your driving while disqualified charges dropped?
It starts with hiring a Calgary lawyer who is experienced in such cases.
A good criminal defence lawyer will examine all the evidence against you and work to find discrepancies, contradictions, or gaps in the Crown’s case.
The burden of proof in a driving while the disqualified case
In driving while disqualified cases, the Crown must prove three key items:
- You were operating a motor vehicle in Canada
- You were disqualified from doing so by the court (due to a conviction under the Criminal Code)
- You knew that you were driving while disqualified
This is not always as simple as it may sound. There is quite a high burden of proof on the prosecutors.
A lawyer experienced in defending driving while disqualified cases will work to find weaknesses in the prosecution case.
If such weaknesses are apparent in your case, we can seek to get the charges against you dropped.
Are there other ways to avoid a conviction for driving while disqualified?
If we can’t get the charges dropped, we can enter case resolution negotiations with the prosecution.
The purpose of these negotiations is to get the criminal charges dropped in exchange for a quick and easy “guilty” plea for a lesser traffic offence.
This will usually still involve a fine but at least you will escape the lifelong criminal record.
Sometimes, it is in everybody’s best interests to negotiate but ultimately, it will depend on the circumstances of your case and the strength of the evidence against you.
Even if the evidence against you is so strong that the prosecution will not consider a plea, we can still look at ways to lessen the effects of a conviction. These may include:
An application for a conditional discharge
This is where, having been found guilty, you are ‘discharged’ from the offence providing you comply with certain conditions over a specific time period.
Conditional discharge is sometimes possible for first-time offenders.
While it is not as advantageous as getting the driving while disqualified charges dropped completely, it may give you a good chance of escaping a lifelong criminal record.
A non-custodial sentence
Another option, if an application for conditional discharge is not possible, is to seek a non-custodial sentence.
This will save you from having to spend any time in prison and, instead, will usually mean a fine or probation.
A conditional sentence order
Sometimes, if the evidence against you is overwhelming and it’s not your first offence, prison time is unavoidable.
In these cases, your lawyer can seek a sentence that allows you to serve your time in the community rather than in jail.
Another way is for your lawyer to request that you only serve weekends in jail so that you can continue to work, earn an income, and support yourself and your family.
A good lawyer will always pursue all legal avenues to reduce the harshness of the effects of a conviction against you.
Your best chance: Work with your lawyer to get the charges dropped
For adults charged and convicted with driving while disqualified in Canada, the offence will stay on your criminal record for up to 80 years before being erased.
That’s effectively the rest of your life.
As well as the short-term fines and possible jail time, a criminal record could have long-term effects on:
- Your career
- Your finances
- Your freedom of movement
- Your immigration status (if you’re not Canadian)
- Your ability to get insurance
In short, the consequences are severe and will impact many areas of your life.
If you have been charged with driving while disqualified, contact Cory Wilson today for a free, no obligation consultation.