Driving While Suspended

applecrumble
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Driving While Suspended

Unread post by applecrumble on

My wife received a ticket for driving with expired plates in 2013. I sent the ticket in the mail with payment but stupidly didn't make sure that it was paid. I assumed that they would send us a notice if it didn't.

Today, my wife was at the OPP office to get a criminal record check for school. The officer took her license for 10-15 minutes and then handed it back to her. As soon as she left the parking lot, another officer pulled her over to check her license. Since it was suspended, she was given a summons. The office said that we would have recieved a registered letter informing her of the fact but we have never received anything about it in the mail and definitively didn't sign for anything.

We don't have an issue with dealing with the original ticket and the fine to reinstate her license but I don't think that we should have to deal with the driving with a suspended license issue since:
1. We never received any notice
2. The office handed her the license without telling her it was suspended just so that they could pull her over

do we have a case here?


karra
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Unread post by karra on

You were set up.
Appear on your first date and set a date for trial - at the same time submit a disclosure request - when the trial date has been set, subpoena the officer who did the background check. Do not accept a trial date longer than three months hence. When the prosecution requests an adjournment, be prepared to object strenuously. I also sense a defence of 'officially induced error'. You want this wrapped up within six months.


bend
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Unread post by bend on

applecrumble wrote:1. We never received any notice
Technically, they don't need to serve you with a notice. Usually, you get people who post here, ignore their tickets, and act shocked when they are pulled over. The other side will argue that anyone who ignores their fines should know their license will be suspended, notice or not.

If I understood correctly, you sent in your ticket along with payment. For whatever reason, it wasn't processed. If you straighten out the unpaid fine as quickly as possible and manage to convince them you sent back a guilty plea along with payment, they may drop the suspended license ticket.
applecrumble wrote:2. The office handed her the license without telling her it was suspended just so that they could pull her over
Correct. It wasn't a coincidence.


applecrumble
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Unread post by applecrumble on

bend wrote:
Technically, they don't need to serve you with a notice. Usually, you get people who post here, ignore their tickets, and act shocked when they are pulled over. The other side will argue that anyone who ignores their fines should know their license will be suspended, notice or not.

If I understood correctly, you sent in your ticket along with payment. For whatever reason, it wasn't processed. If you straighten out the unpaid fine as quickly as possible and manage to convince them you sent back a guilty plea along with payment, they may drop the suspended license ticket.
That's what we are trying to do. Already took care of the reinstatement fee. Figuring out how to pay a 1 year old fine with no infraction number is difficult (stupidly didn't keep a copy)
bend wrote: Correct. It wasn't a coincidence.
What bothers me is that there doesn't seem to be any benefit in what they did. She wasn't trying to break any laws. If the officer had told her at the time that her license was suspended, she would have walked the 2 minutes to the service Ontario location to take care of it. I can see running this kind of a sting to arrest somebody who is actually dangerous but this is over an unpaid $100 fine.


OPS Copper
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Unread post by OPS Copper on

A criminal record check will not show suspensions as it is a HTA offense so the officer inside will not know it was suspended.

You were not set up you were just unlucky.

ops


applecrumble
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Unread post by applecrumble on

OPS Copper wrote:A criminal record check will not show suspensions as it is a HTA offense so the officer inside will not know it was suspended.

You were not set up you were just unlucky.

ops
I don't think that I would use the term "set up" but I can pretty much guarantee that it was related. The officer at the office took the drivers license for 10-15 minutes and as soon as she left the parking lot, a different officer was pulling her over. When she asked if she did anything wrong, the officer told her that he was informed that there was possibly a woman driving around with a suspended license.


12345
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Unread post by 12345 on

applecrumble wrote:
OPS Copper wrote:A criminal record check will not show suspensions as it is a HTA offense so the officer inside will not know it was suspended.

You were not set up you were just unlucky.

ops
I don't think that I would use the term "set up" but I can pretty much guarantee that it was related. The officer at the office took the drivers license for 10-15 minutes and as soon as she left the parking lot, a different officer was pulling her over. When she asked if she did anything wrong, the officer told her that he was informed that there was possibly a woman driving around with a suspended license.
It sounds like there was some confusion with the person at the desk. When you say that the desk attendent took her license for 10-15 minutes it was probably to get the required information for the criminal record check.

Your wife came in for a criminal record check, not to be told the status of her drivers license. For all the person at the desk knew, your wife already knew that her license was suspended and telling her again would just patronize and annoy her. I don't think the person at the desk should be blamed for assuming that your wife was aware of her suspended license as it seems most people get notified of it.

So that being said, perhaps the desk attendant noticed the suspended license, wondered how your wife had gotten to the police station, and reported it to the police in the area just in case she did drive off (thinking that she was knowingly driving with a suspended license). It would explain why the officer was notified of the "possibility" of a woman driving with a suspended license.

So to me it sounds like confusion and misunderstanding rather than a set up. In my unqualified opinion, I believe that your story would hold up in court and you would at least get a lesser charge or maybe even have it dropped due to the circumstances. But once again I'm not a police officer or legal advisor so I am really just talking out of my ying yang.

Good luck with the proceedings.


applecrumble
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Unread post by applecrumble on

12345 wrote:
It sounds like there was some confusion with the person at the desk. When you say that the desk attendent took her license for 10-15 minutes it was probably to get the required information for the criminal record check.

Your wife came in for a criminal record check, not to be told the status of her drivers license. For all the person at the desk knew, your wife already knew that her license was suspended and telling her again would just patronize and annoy her. I don't think the person at the desk should be blamed for assuming that your wife was aware of her suspended license as it seems most people get notified of it.

So that being said, perhaps the desk attendant noticed the suspended license, wondered how your wife had gotten to the police station, and reported it to the police in the area just in case she did drive off (thinking that she was knowingly driving with a suspended license). It would explain why the officer was notified of the "possibility" of a woman driving with a suspended license.

So to me it sounds like confusion and misunderstanding rather than a set up. In my unqualified opinion, I believe that your story would hold up in court and you would at least get a lesser charge or maybe even have it dropped due to the circumstances. But once again I'm not a police officer or legal advisor so I am really just talking out of my ying yang.

Good luck with the proceedings.
Thanks. Now that I think about it, that actually does make sense. That could very well be what happened. Although if my wife was knowingly driving under suspension, she wouldn't have risked handing her license to the OPP in the first place to get her check, so she would have preferred the attendant to risk being patronizing to let her know. My wife did say that she was asked if she drove to the office.

Now I just need to know what is going to happen. She was handed the summons to appear at the provincial court house. Is this just a chance to talk to them and set a court date or make a plea bargain? Or will it be the actual proceedings? Would we be able to go in early to get this whole thing over with?


Stanton
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Unread post by Stanton on

Was it actually a police officer that did the background check on your wife or a civilian employee? I personally find the scenario troubling. Assuming an officer ran a CPIC check on your wife, they should have seen an entry stating she was suspended. If so, they shouldn’t have returned her licence. Licences of suspended drivers are supposed to be seized and returned to the MTO. If it was a civilian employee they wouldn’t have the same authority or responsibility.

I think your wife has an excellent defence if it was an officer. Ultimately she’s responsible for ensuring her fines are paid, but I think the circumstances help show she was unaware of the suspension. She believed you had paid the fine on her behalf. She drove herself to a police station (not something a suspended driver would typically do). An officer examined her licence, returned it and never told her of the suspension.

The first Court date will NOT be a trial. You’ll probably have a chance to discuss matters with the Crown and possibly obtain a plea deal (they frequently offer a plea to drive no licence). I’d be tempted to not accept a plea and go to trial, but you may want to seek legal advice. The problem is that conviction for driving under suspension is so serious, that it’s sometimes not worth taking a risk. I'd also try explaining the scenario to the Crown but don't count on them simply withdrawing the charge.

Regardless, I’d have your wife write down everything she remembers about what happened at the police station while it’s fresh in her mind. I’d also find out the name of the officer that dealt with your wife at the station because if it goes to trial you’ll want them there.


applecrumble
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Unread post by applecrumble on

Stanton wrote:Was it actually a police officer that did the background check on your wife or a civilian employee? I personally find the scenario troubling. Assuming an officer ran a CPIC check on your wife, they should have seen an entry stating she was suspended. If so, they shouldn’t have returned her licence. Licences of suspended drivers are supposed to be seized and returned to the MTO. If it was a civilian employee they wouldn’t have the same authority or responsibility.

I think your wife has an excellent defence if it was an officer. Ultimately she’s responsible for ensuring her fines are paid, but I think the circumstances help show she was unaware of the suspension. She believed you had paid the fine on her behalf. She drove herself to a police station (not something a suspended driver would typically do). An officer examined her licence, returned it and never told her of the suspension.

The first Court date will NOT be a trial. You’ll probably have a chance to discuss matters with the Crown and possibly obtain a plea deal (they frequently offer a plea to drive no licence). I’d be tempted to not accept a plea and go to trial, but you may want to seek legal advice. The problem is that conviction for driving under suspension is so serious, that it’s sometimes not worth taking a risk. I'd also try explaining the scenario to the Crown but don't count on them simply withdrawing the charge.

Regardless, I’d have your wife write down everything she remembers about what happened at the police station while it’s fresh in her mind. I’d also find out the name of the officer that dealt with your wife at the station because if it goes to trial you’ll want them there.
Thanks for the great information. It helps a lot. I'm not sure who ran the actual record check. This was when she was going to pick up the results of the check. What happened was:

1. Wife walked into the office and handed her license to the woman at the desk (not in uniform)
2. Woman asked if my wife drove there. When my wife answered yes, the woman called an officer in and handed him the license. He told her that he needed to check something and walked out of the room
3. Some time later, he came back, put the license on the counter. The woman asked him if everything was okay, my wife didn't hear his answer but the woman said "good" and handed my wife the license with her record check and said that she could go
4. My wife drove out of the parking lot and pulled over about 100 ft down the road to go to a store and an office pulled behind her and turned on his lights.
5. He asked for her license and when she asked if there was anything wrong, he told her that he was told that there was a woman possibly driving on a suspended license.

Like you said, we don't understand why he would have given her the license if he knew that it was suspended. I also don't understand what benefit it would be to catch her driving on it instead of seizing it on the spot. We are trying to teach our kids that the police are there to help, but sometimes it feels like they aren't.

We called the courthouse to pay the original ticket and when we were talking to them, we were given the contact information for the prosecutor. Does it make sense to try to talk to him in advance? This would be before we have disclosure but 1) We would like to get this whole thing taken care of and 2) This is a small town courthouse and we are worried that when we get there, we won't have an option to talk to him before she has to plead.






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