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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.M. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for our client to receive a conviction on this charge.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade the Court to grant our client a conditional discharge. No conviction.

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

Charge: Commit Indecent Act.
Issue: Whether it was appropriate for Crown to proceed with the charge.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to present information on our client's behalf and was able to persuade Crown counsel that there was no longer any public interest in proceeding with this matter. Stay of proceedings. Warrant cancelled. No criminal record.

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

Charge: Driving While Prohibited.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the charge.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to proceed on the lesser offence of driving without a valid licence. Rather than a mandatory minimum 12 month driving prohibition, our client was sentenced to a $300 fine and a 3 month prohibition.

R. vs. L.W. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Criminal Harassment (reduced to Peace Bond).
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for Crown to prosecute our client on the criminal harassment charge;
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to stay the criminal charge upon our client entering into a s. 810 Peace Bond for 12 months. No criminal record.

R. vs. K.M. - Surrey RCMP Investigation

Charge: Sexual Assault.
Issue: Whether there was sufficient evidence to meet the Crown's charge approval standard.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to steer our client through the investigation and was able to provide information to police and Crown which culminated in Crown counsel's decision to not approve any charges. No criminal record.

R. vs. P.H.S. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Driving While Prohibited.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for Crown to proceed with the charge.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to allow our client to plead to s. 24(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act. Rather than the mandatory minimum 12 month driving prohibition, our client was sentenced to a $300 fine and a two month driving prohibition.

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

Charges: Sexual Assault x2; Sexual Interference.
Issue: Given the extensive information that we were able to provide to Crown counsel, whether there remained a substantial likelihood of a conviction.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings on all counts. No jail. No criminal record.

R. vs. C.F. - Port Coquitlam Provincial Court

Charge: Assault (reduced to s. 810 Peace Bond).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our client through, whether it was appropriate for Crown to proceed.
Result: Mr. Mines was first able to persuade Crown to proceed on a Peace Bond application rather than the criminal assault charge. He was then able to persuade Crown to withdraw its Peace Bond application. No criminal record.

R. vs. T.K.- Abbotsford Provincial Court

Charge: Driving without consideration; driving past police vehicle; speeding.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with all counts, which upon conviction would have led to a driving prohibition.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to negotiate a resolution where our client pleaded guilty to only a three point speeding ticket and police withdrew the remaining counts. Our client was sentenced to a fine. No driving prohibition.

R. vs. E.W. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault.
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our client through, whether it was in the public interest for our client to receive a criminal conviction.
Result: After hearing Mr. Johnson's submissions on our client's behalf, the court granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.

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

Charge: Driving while Prohibited.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with this charge which carries a one year mandatory minimum driving prohibition.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown counsel to permit our client to resolve this matter by pleading guilty to the lesser offence of driving without a valid licence. Our client was sentenced to a fine. No driving prohibition.

R. vs. J.G. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our client through, whether it was in the public interest for the Crown to continue with the prosecution.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown to enter a stay of proceedings, bringing the matter to an end. No criminal record.

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.