Albeta licence seized - Charged with DWUS

John from AB
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Albeta licence seized - Charged with DWUS

by: John from AB on
Sat May 05, 2012 6:07 pm

Hello all,

Thanks very much for having an online community like this to turn to for help and support.

So, I currently split time between Ontario and Alberta, but am a resident of Alberta (I've lived there my whole life, and hold my driver's licence there).

Yesterday I was pulled over in Toronto for allegedly "disobey[ing] sign", and making an illegal right hand turn (this in and of itself was somewhat bizarre to me, as this was at a traffic light controlled four-way intersection on a green light. I guess there's a sign there saying no right-hand turns between 4-6, something I don't believe I've ever seen before in my life, but perhaps this is normal in Ontario??).

Anyhow, I was informed by the officer that due to an outstanding fine my licence had been suspended at some point in the past, and I was given 3 tickets, in addition to having my Alberta licence seized (I was shocked that he was able to do this, but he claimed that he had the right to do so, and that it would be passed along to, and held by, this MTO). I was given one pink "Notice of Suspension", one yellow "Summons to Defendant" for driving while under suspension, and another yellow "Summons to Defendant" for the offence of "Disobey Sign" (is this a legitimate offence? Why would this be given to me as a summons to court and not a normal ticket??).

I had been pulled over for speeding back in 2008 by the OPP somewhere near Sudbury and given a ticket in the $300-$400 range (don't remember exactly what it was) while driving from Toronto to Calgary. Once I got back to Calgary I never paid this ticket (in part because fighting it wasn't a genuine option for me as I'd have to travel back to Sudbury however many times), and never heard another word about it. Nothing ever came in the mail, and no collections agency or anything ever tried to contact me. I had made the assumption (clearly flawed) that the ticket had been thrown out for whatever reason. I figured at the time that there must be some extra difficulties in making a ticket hold up for an out of province driver, and never really thought about it again for the next 3.5 years or so. If nothing else, I won't be making that mistake again...but I certainly never dreamed that a suspension was even possible out of this. I don't believe that an unpaid fine ever results in a suspension in Alberta...

In the last four years I've spent a great deal of time driving in both provinces, having renewed vehicle registration multiple times in Alberta, and I even just renewed my licence this past October. Yesterday was the first time I'd ever heard anything about this suspension whatsoever (first I've been pulled over in that time). I find it strange that I was given this notice of suspension and the summons for driving under suspension at the same time. Shouldn't it only be one or the other? And it seems crazy to me that they can assert that I've been driving on a suspended licence for years, and seize that licence (from another province no less), when I just had it renewed six months ago.

Ive been given a court date in early June, which is over a month from now. Obviously being from Alberta this might put me in a number of tricky spots. Are there any options available to me to try and resolve this asap?

I was asking the cop for any advice he could give me, but the only thing he kept responding with to all of my questions was "just go to a Ministry of Transportation office, they'll be able to help you". So, of course I'll be doing that first thing Monday, but I'm pretty skeptical that some MTO admin is going to be able to do much for me.

I'm not sure if there's any other information I can provide that might be useful, but this whole experience feels somewhat surreal to me. To see an old speeding ticket result years later in possible jail time, let alone without any notification or heads up, just seems insane to me.

I would be extremely grateful for any help or advice that any of you might be able to give me.

Thanks so much for your time.


Stanton
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by: Stanton on
Sat May 05, 2012 7:13 pm

If you're convicted of an offence in Ontario, an Ontario driver's licence number is generated. Basically even if your out of Province licence is valid, you'd still be suspended in Ontario until your fines are paid. This allows Ontario a means of ensuring there is incentive for out of Province drivers to pay fines if they ever plan on returning.

Not sure why you were never notified of the conviction. Most provinces are quite good at sharing info with one another about convictions. I'm surprised the Ontario speeding conviction doesn't show on your Alberta driving abstract.

I would suggest ensuring the matter is dealt with properly, especially if you frequent Ontario. If you're out of Province at the time of the trial, might be worth hiring a paralegal to represent you. You don't have to attend in person if you have representation.

And as for ticket versus summons, if you're given a summons for one offence, you're typically given a summons for the rest as well. It just helps ensure all matters are dealt with at the same time.


John from AB
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by: John from AB on
Sun May 06, 2012 7:09 pm

Thanks very much for the reply Stanton.

Okay, so I follow you with this Ontario licence being generated, and there being a suspension levelled against that. Where I'm still lost is how they can claim I was driving on a suspended licence when I was clearly driving on a totally legitimate, and unsuspended, Alberta licence.

Do you know if that's going to make my case clear cut to be thrown out? The licence itself should be proof of this as I'm sure it has the date of issue on there, which is well after this suspension would have been levelled.

If it's important to be in court I can probably make sure to be in Ontario for that date. I looked into getting a paralegal and it looks quite expensive. I've also read a lot of people saying that the benefit they're able to give you is often negligible when compared to what you could achieve on your own just by showing up to court. Although, if I'm caught in Alberta or elsewhere at that time, it'll be a great option to have.

Taking any logistical concerns out of it, do you have a strong opinion either way as to whether it would be better for me to represent myself in this matter, or use a paralegal?

Do you also have any idea if there's any other way for me to expedite this process? Is there a way I can get in touch with a JP or someone else who has the authority to deal with this, in advance of the court date? And if I make the effort to appear in court, how likely is it that I'll be able to get it dealt with then and there?

Sorry for all the questions, but your thoughts are very much appreciated.

Thanks again.


Stanton
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by: Stanton on
Sun May 06, 2012 9:00 pm

Unfortunately it has nothing to do with the validity of your Alberta licence. The suspended Ontario licence trumps any out of Province licence. It may help strengthen a defence argument of you being unaware of the suspension, but I'm not sure how far that will get you in Court.

If you have the time, I'd certainly try a first attendance meeting with the Crown. Typically with a summons, your first Court date is also the first attendance date. See if they're willing to offer you a fair deal. If not, it may then be worth at least consulting with a paralegal.

Edit: I'd strongly suggest paying off your outstanding Ontario fines prior to your first attendance date. Showing you've taken care of everything will often help when negotiating a plea.


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