The Charge

To be found guilty of this offence, the Crown must prove that (1) you were operating a motor vehicle in Canada; (2) on any street, road, highway, or other public place; (3) while you were disqualified from doing so because of a previous driving suspension, or because the province has suspended your license for any other reason.

Even if your previous driving suspension has expired, you could still be guilty of this offence if you drive! You are considered to be “disqualified” from driving until you actively take steps to get your license reinstated.

Driving while disqualified is treated extremely seriously by the police, the prosecutors, and judges.

For example, in Calgary, the police have a unit of officers whose sole job is to catch people suspected of driving when they are prohibited from doing so, and Calgary Criminal Lawyers have seen cases where the police stakeout and deploy surveillance for hours on the homes of disqualified drivers, just waiting for them to slip up.

In virtually every single case, the Crown Prosecutor asks for a jail sentence regardless of the circumstances of the case (i.e. whether the accused was making a “quick trip to the corner store” or driving for a much longer distance.

Many judges have written judgements reinforcing the seriousness of this offence and confirming that jail is usually an appropriate sentence. This is because driving while disqualified is the equivalent of disobeying a court order, something that, quite obviously, judges don’t look upon with much sympathy. Multiple judges have noted that this offence “smacks of contempt”. Some judgments have even said that driving while disqualified is as serious as breaking out of jail!


Since driving while disqualified is a violation of a court order, many judges will have some doubt that you will abide by conditions if you are released while your case winds its way through the court. This is especially so if you have prior criminal convictions. Let Calgary Criminal Lawyers work to persuade the judge that you are not a danger to re-offend if you are released by putting forth a sensible and accurate release plan.

The Defence

Calgary Criminal Lawyers can help you if you are charged with driving while disqualified! The Crown must provide specific documents in support off this charge, which we will carefully review with you. You may have a defence based on your mistaken belief that you were permitted to drive, or an error in the court documents.

The Sentence

You can be sentenced to jail for up to 5 years, be put on probation for up to three years, and fined up to $5000. In addition, you will be prohibited from driving for at least one year if it is your first offence.

We can help minimize the consequences of being found guilty! We may be able to negotiate a guilty plea to a less serious charge, and put your best foot forward when the time comes to be sentenced. We will accurately and confidently advise the judge of all your positive qualities and other mitigating circumstances of the offence to ensure the best possible outcome. Some factors the judge will likely consider when passing sentence include:

  • The reason you were disqualified from driving in the first place;
  • Whether you were committing other offences while driving disqualified (like driving dangerously, or with no insurance);
  • How much of your suspension was left to be served;
  • Your reason for driving;
  • The duration of the driving, and the reason you stopped driving;
  • Your history of disregarding court orders