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Driving While Prohibited

The Charge

British Columbia drivers can become prohibited drivers if, as part of a sentence to a Criminal Code or Motor Vehicle Act offence, a judge imposes a period of prohibition. Likewise, a driver can become prohibited if they blow a “warn” or a “fail” as the result of an Immediate Roadside Prohibition investigation. Furthermore, a driver can be prohibited by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles when they accumulate a bad driving record, including offences that carry demerit points, and they are served with a Notice of Intent to Prohibit.

Driving while prohibited is a serious matter under both the Criminal Code and the Motor Vehicle Act. Under either statute, a first time offender faces a mandatory 12-month driving prohibition and a substantial fine of $500 – $2,000. A prison sentence of up to six months is a possibility for a first time offender; a mandatory minimum prison sentence of at least 14 days is required for a second offence and a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days in jail is required for each subsequent offence. In order to obtain a guilty verdict for driving while prohibited, the Crown must prove (a) that the driver was, in fact, prohibited by the courts or the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles and that (b) the driver had knowledge that they were prohibited.

The Investigation

The Automated Licence Plate Recognition (ALRP) System is a licence plate recognition system employed by BC police agencies that allows vehicles observed by police cameras to have their licence plate read and recorded. The goal is to reduce motor vehicle violations, in particular those related to unlicensed, uninsured and prohibited drivers. Police will use this technology, or at times, will simply detain and check a driver to see if they are properly licensed. Upon pulling over a vehicle which police suspect is being driven by a prohibited driver, the officer will attempt to illicit an incriminating admission by the driver in which they acknowledge that they are prohibited. It is useful to know that a driver, though obligated to produce a valid driver’s licence and to identify themselves to police, has no obligation to engage in a conversation regarding any knowledge of a driving prohibition.

Recent Successes

R. vs. J.F. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Possession for the purpose of Trafficking; Obstruct Police.
Issue: Whether the cocaine found by police was intended for sale or for personal use, and whether it was in the public interest to prosecute.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to provide information to Crown counsel which resulted in Crown agreeing to drop all charges upon our client successfully completing the Alternative Measures Program.

R. vs. A.O. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Possession of a loaded restricted handgun, without a permit.
Issue: Whether the Crown could prove that our client did anything more than briefly touch the gun while he a passenger in a vehicle.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade the trial judge that our client's actions were minimal and that his youthful age and lack of record allowed him to be granted  a conditional discharge. No conviction. No jail.

R. vs. S.S. - Nelson Provincial Court

Charges: Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (MDMA, Ketamine, Cocaine).
Issue: Given the nature of the search and seizure, the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our client through, and given the recent changes to the mandatory minimum jail sentence for this offence, whether our client was eligible for a non-custodial sentence.
Result: Notwithstanding the large amount of drugs involved (approximately 2 kgs), Mr. Johnson was able to persuade the court to impose a conditional sentence of two years, less one day. No jail.

R. vs. D.M. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Assault.
Issue: Given the provocation that preceded the incident, what  the appropriate sentence would be.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade the court to sentence our client to a period of probation of 12 months. No jail.

R. vs. B.K. - New Westminster Provincial Court

Charge: Indecent Act.
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our client through, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the prosecution.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings upon our client completing an extensive course of counselling. No criminal record.

R. vs. K.L. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Theft Over $5000 (from employer).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our client through, whether she would be sentenced to jail.
Result: After steering our client through counselling and arranging her repayment of the misappropriated funds, Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to not seek a. jail sentence. After hearing Mr. Mines' submissions on our client's behalf, the court granted a suspended sentence and placed our client on probation for 18 months. No jail.

R. vs. A.A. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Sexual Assault; Uttering threats; assault, Breach of Release Order.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of conviction.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel that there was no realistic chance of conviction on the sex assault charge and Crown proceeded only on the assault charge to which our client pleaded guilty. After hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the court granted our client a conditional discharge and Crown entered stays of proceeding on the remaining 3 counts. No jail, no criminal conviction.

R. vs. A.S. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Driving while prohibited.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with this charge which carries a mandatory one year driving prohibition upon conviction.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to provide Crown counsel with information that concluded our client was not at all responsible for the motor vehicle accident and persuaded Crown to proceed on the lesser offence of driving without aa valid license. Our client was sentenced to a fine and a 3 month driving prohibition.

R. vs. L.M. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Mischief Over $5000; Assault Police Officer.
Issue: Whether the sentence ought to emphasize punishment or rehabilitation in this matter where our client was alleged to have caused over $100,000 in damage to his building.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to provide Crown counsel with materials confirming the rehabilitative steps our client had taken for his mental health. The cRown stayed the assault police officer charge and, after hearing Mr. Gauthier's submissions, the Court granted our client a conditional discharge and placed him on probation. No jail.

R. vs. D.R. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the prosecution.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings on the assault charge. Our client entered into a 12 month Peace Bond. No criminal record.

R. vs. B.Z. - Port Coquitlam Provincial Court

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to direct our client through, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with this prosecution.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to provide Crown counsel with information that allowed him to persuade Crown to enter a stay of proceedings. No criminal record.

R. vs. M.C. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Driving While Prohibited.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for Crown to proceed with the prosecution of this offence which carries a 12 month mandatory minimum driving prohibition.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown counsel to proceed on the lesser offence of driving without a valid licence. Our client received a $500 fine and a 30 day driving prohibition.

The Defence

While it is not possible to go “behind” the driving prohibition by arguing that the court, or the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles should not have prohibited the driver to start with, a defence to prohibited driving is that the driver had no knowledge of the prohibition having been imposed. Significantly, the Crown has the burden of proving that the accused knew they were the subject of a driving prohibition. This can be problematic for the Crown when, for example, they are trying to prove knowledge by the fact the Superintendent mailed a Notice of Intent to Prohibit to the accused. As experienced defence lawyers, we can present arguments that challenge the presumption that the accused was ever aware of the prohibition. For example, just because a letter was mailed, it does not follow that the letter was actually received or read by the accused. Likewise, it may be difficult for an officer who issued a 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibition to prove that he actually served notice of the prohibition on the accused. In rare cases, it is possible to advocate the defence of “necessity” in prohibited driving cases. Where, for example, a prohibited driver chooses to drive in order to save a life, the court ought to find the driver not guilty.

Driving while prohibited charges are an area in which we have had great success in being able to negotiate satisfactory resolutions for our clients. By presenting Crown counsel with a full background of our client’s circumstances, and reasons for driving, we have been able to persuade Crown to proceed on the lesser, related offence of driving without holding a valid driver’s licence, under s. 24 of the Motor Vehicle Act. The advantage of this offence is that it does not require any mandatory driving prohibition whatsoever.

Start with a free consultation.

If you are being investigated by police or if you’ve been charged with a criminal or driving offence, don’t face the problem alone. Being accused of an offence is stressful. The prospects of a criminal record or jail sentence can be daunting. Even if you think there is no defence, we may be able to help. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our Vancouver lawyers, contact us now.