Canadian Criminal Law/Offences/Driving While Disqualified

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Driving While Disqualified
s. 259 of the Crim. Code
Election / Plea
Crown Election Hybrid
Jurisdiction Prov. Court
SC Judge + PI (I)
SC Jury + PI (I) (536(2))
Summary Dispositions
Avail. Disp. Discharge (730)

Suspended Sentence (731(1)(a))
Fine (734)
Fine + Probation (731(1)(b))
Jail (718.3, 787)
Jail + Probation (731(1)(b))
Jail + Fine (734)

Conditional Sentence (742.1)
Maximum 6 months jail or $5,000 fine
Indictable Dispositions
Avail. Disp. same as summary
Maximum 5 years jail
Offence Elements
Sentence Principles
Sentence Digests



Operation while disqualified
(4) Every offender who operates a motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft or any railway equipment in Canada while disqualified from doing so, other than an offender who is registered in an alcohol ignition interlock device program established under the law of the province in which the offender resides and who complies with the conditions of the program,

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Definition of “disqualification”
(5) For the purposes of this section, “disqualification” means

(a) a prohibition from operating a motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft or any railway equipment ordered pursuant to any of subsections (1), (2) and (3.1) to (3.4); or
(b) a disqualification or any other form of legal restriction of the right or privilege to operate a motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft imposed
(i) in the case of a motor vehicle, under the law of a province, or
(ii) in the case of a vessel or an aircraft, under an Act of Parliament,

in respect of a conviction or discharge under section 730 of any offence referred to in any of subsections (1), (2) and (3.1) to (3.4).



Proof of the Offence[edit]

  1. identity of accused
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)
  4. the accused operated a vehicle
  5. that the vehicle was a "motor vehicle"
  6. the accused's licence was suspended by a court order at the time (use certificate of suspension)
  7. time and date of the prohibition
  8. that a copy of the order was given to the accused (or mailed to him)
  9. that the order was read to him


Once the Crown makes out the essential elements of the case, the accused should be convicted unless there is evidence showing a lack of knowledge of the suspension.[1]

There has been mixed views on whether the prosecution must prove that the accused was not registered in the provincial interlock program.[2]

  1. R. v. Gale, [1995] A.J. No. 295
    R. v. Lock, [1974] O.J. No. 1938 (ONCA)
  2. R. v. Liptak, 2009 ABPC 342 (acquitted) R. v. Whatmore, 2011 ABPC 320 (convicted) R v Johnston, 2011 MBPC 64 (convicted)