Driving while disqualified in Calgary can make a bad situation worse.

Regardless of why your license was originally suspended, driving while disqualified is a criminal offence with severe consequences.

Calgary Driving While Disqualified Lawyer

If you find yourself in this position, you will need a strong defence to avoid the harsh penalties associated with this charge – including a lifelong addition to your criminal record.

At Wilson Criminal Defence, our extensive experience in defending driving while disqualified charges can help you evade the most serious consequences.

What is driving while disqualified?

An individual who is found to be operating a motor vehicle (or vessel or aircraft) while a previous disqualification order remains in place will be charged with driving while disqualified.

The charge can be prosecuted as either an indictable or summary offence.

In order to charge you with driving while disqualified, the arresting law enforcement officers must be satisfied that:

  1. You operated a motor vehicle (or vessel or aircraft) on any street, road, highway, or other public place in Canada
  2. You were disqualified from doing so by the court (due to a conviction under the Criminal Code)
  3. You knew that you were driving while disqualified

Driving while disqualified is treated as a separate offense to driving while suspended. The latter is considered a lesser charge and can be punishable under the provincial laws of Alberta.

Why do drivers get disqualified?

Driving disqualification is normally a penalty associated with a conviction for a criminal offence, such as impaired driving or dangerous driving.

You will be informed by court order of your disqualification and its duration. If you are found to be operating a vehicle during this period or before you have taken steps to reinstate your licence, you will receive a driving while disqualified charge.

What are license suspensions?

License suspensions are non-criminal penalties handed out by the province of Alberta for both driving-related and non-driving related offences, such as:

  • Speeding
  • Exceeding the demerit point limit
  • Other traffic offences
  • Not paying child support

Driving while suspended has its own fines and penalties associated with it but they are less severe than driving while disqualified.

Note that it is possible to have a disqualification imposed by the Court and a suspension by the provincial authorities that do not expire at the same time.

This can cause some confusion. It could mean that if you drive after your disqualification period ends, you are still breaking the law.

You must get your license back from the local government before you can legally drive again.

Penalties for driving while disqualified 

If you drive while disqualified, you will end up with an addition to your criminal record and additional penalties unless your lawyer is able to get the charges dismissed, successfully defend you in court, or negotiate an alternative outcome.

The penalties are set out in Section 259 of the Criminal Code as follows:

  • Up to five years in jail
  • Probation for up to three years
  • A fine of up to $5,000
  • Prohibition from driving for at least one year (for a first offence)

When sentencing, the judge will consider many factors that can mitigate or intensify the consequences, such as:

  • Why were you disqualified from driving?
  • Why were you driving?
  • Did you commit other offences while driving disqualified?
  • How much of your disqualification period remained?
  • Do you have a history of disobeying court orders?

The most serious long-term consequence is generally a lifelong addition to your criminal record. This can affect future employment, finances, travel, immigration status (for non-Canadians), and other aspects of your life.

What are the main defences for driving while disqualified?

Your chance of avoiding the most severe consequences will largely depend on the skills of your criminal defense lawyer in defending the charge against you.

The justice system takes a dim view of anyone who disregards a court order such as a disqualification from driving.

Many judges are, therefore, reluctant even to release offenders on bail because the fear is that the conditions will be violated again if the offender is released.

It takes a viable release plan from your lawyer to persuade the judge that you are not a danger to re-offend if you are released.

As your case passes through the justice system in Calgary, we may able to get it dismissed if mistakes were made by law enforcement or if your constitutional rights were violated. 

The prosecution must provide specific evidence to support the charge against you. We will review these documents with you in fine detail and check for errors.

Your defence could also be based on the fact that you were mistaken in your belief that you were permitted to drive.

Many times, even if the evidence against you is convincing, we are able to negotiate a guilty plea to a less serious charge and help you avoid some of the most severe consequences.

Call us to arrange a confidential consultation

To speak with Cory Wilson or arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with Wilson Criminal Defence, call 403-978-6052 or email us here.

Cory Wilson is a criminal defence lawyer based in Calgary. If you have been charged with a criminal offence or are a suspect in a criminal investigation, call today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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Tel: 403-978-6052