What are the sentencing consequences of pleading guilty to a first time driving while disqualified charge? First of all, what is driving while disqualified? Let’s assume you pled guilty to an impaired driving within the last 6 months. In that case, the judge probably prohibited you from driving for 1 year or it could be a dangerous driving or another type of Criminal Code driving offence where you have left the scene of an accident, for example. Assuming you get caught by the police driving your motor vehicle during the 1 year driving prohibition period, the police are going to charge you with driving while disqualified. In other words, you were a disqualified driver at the time the police observed you driving.
We practice in many different counties throughout Ontario and we know the range of sentence for driving while disqualified throughout the province. Sentencing for this type of offence varies slightly from county to county, but I have found by and large the range of sentence for a first time driving while disqualified in Ontario, depending on the county, ranges from about 14 to 30 days in jail. That’s what you are typically going to face. Occasionally, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a jail term in a lesser range of 7-10 days in certain counties. If you provided me the name of your county I could name an even more precise range than that because we know all the sentencing ranges of the 20 or more counties that we practice in. So that’s what happens.
In addition, upon conviction for a driving while disqualified charge, you are going to lose your licence again. You are going to be prohibited from driving for at least another full year from the date you pled guilty and the Ministry of Transportation (“MTO”) is also going to suspend your licence concurrently for the same year (i.e. the court ordered driving prohibition runs at the same time as the 1 year MTO licence suspension). So, there are 2 basic suspension schemes which are in effect for a driving while disqualified. Upon conviction for driving while disqualified, a Judge will prohibit you from driving for a minimum of 1 year. The MTO also suspends you automatically for 1 year. In other words, the court system and MTO get you coming and going, but it’s for the same 1-year suspension which runs concurrently. Those are the significant sentencing repercussions for a first time driving while disqualified conviction.