Driving While Prohibited
One of the most serious offences in the Motor Vehicle Act is driving while prohibited or suspended. If you have been prohibited from driving either for having a bad driving record, from an Immediate Roadside Prohibition or if a judge made a prohibition order in court, you are not permitted to drive in British Columbia. Even if you have a valid driver’s license from another jurisdiction, if you are prohibited from driving in BC, you can be charged and convicted of driving under suspension.
If you drive while prohibited and you are stopped by the police, it is highly likely that you will be required to attend court. Driving while prohibited carries the possibility of a jail sentence. The BC Motor Vehicle Act prescribes a mandatory 14-day jail sentence for a second offence of driving under suspension.
How are people caught driving while prohibited?
Police forces in BC notify officers in regular briefings of people who have been prohibited from driving and tell them to be on the lookout for those individuals. Officers are also given information about where people work, where they frequent and any other vehicles that might be associated with the prohibited driver. For example, vehicles registered to other drivers living at the same address as the prohibited driver may be flagged. In BC, many RCMP cars are equipped with ALPR – Automatic Licence Plate Recognition which enables them to scan thousands of cars for potential prohibited drivers. Occasionally, off-duty officers will recognize a person in a public place who they recall may be prohibited and call another officer to attend to observe the suspect get into a vehicle and drive off. The statistics indicate that prohibited drivers who make the decision to drive while prohibited will likely be caught.
What happens when you’ve been caught driving while prohibited?
The police investigation in Driving While Prohibited cases usually starts and finishes at the roadside. Officers are trained to detect drivers who lie about their identity. They may have their dispatcher call the owner of the vehicle. They may question the suspect about violations on their driving record. They may make close note of the physical description of the driver and even pull up photos on their computer or smartphone. Identity must be established to the satisfaction of the officer before the suspect is released. The officer takes notes of the circumstances, informs dispatch, enters certain information into the police database computer systems and then typically releases the suspect with a document called an Appearance Notice, which is the same size as a traffic ticket but unlike a traffic ticket it requires the recipient appear in court. The officer typically has the vehicle towed.
Going to court for Driving While Prohibited
If you are charged with Driving While Prohibited, call a lawyer. The lawyer can appear for you in court as an agent, so you do not need to attend and in most circumstances, there are good reasons why you should not attend. At the first appearance in court, your lawyer will be given a copy of the police particulars. The case will be adjourned typically for two weeks for your lawyer to examine the particulars, identify defences and give you legal advice about how to deal with the charge going forward. The strategy that your lawyer devises for you will take into account the probability of success in defending the charge, the repercussions to you and your personal circumstances. Often the lawyer can come up with a solution to mitigate the severe consequences and to put you in a better situation. If you have a second charge of driving while prohibited, the prosecution will notify your lawyer that they intend to rely on the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act to ensure you serve no less than 14 days in jail. It is important to note that even on a first offence, jail may be sought or a jail sentence imposed if the circumstances warrant such a sentence.
Mandatory minimum punishment
A conviction for driving while prohibited carries a mandatory minimum punishment including a one-year driving prohibition. For most people a lengthy driving prohibition is harsh, compromising
employment opportunities, childcare responsibilities and other family duties. Your lawyer will have that in mind when building a defence to the charge. In many cases, a quick fix may be possible with the right facts.
Defending a driving while prohibited charge
The defences for a Driving While Prohibited allegation can include violations of Charter rights, quality of the evidence, credibility and procedural defences. Lawyers with particular experience defending driving while prohibited charges may be quick to identify an angle to challenge the allegation, providing an opportunity to avoid the mandatory punishment and even the jail sentence for second-time offenders.
Getting help with a driving while prohibited charge
We have decades of experience successfully defending Driving While Prohibited charges. We know how serious it is for you. We understand the stress and difficulty that you are facing if you have been charged with Driving While Prohibited. We can help get you through this difficult time and in many cases avoid a conviction.