How Do People Get Caught?
A lot of people seem to believe that if they do not do anything wrong with their driving, they will be able to drive while prohibited undetected. Police officers scan license plates while they are driving. Technology now enables officers to automatically scan thousands of license plates an hour. Anytime a plate comes back as a “hit” the police will pull the vehicle over to investigate. This technology is known as Automated License Plate Recognition. According to statistics reported on the DriveSmartBC blog, 1944 people were charged for driving without a license and 313 people charged with driving while prohibited in 2013 alone. The BC RCMP statistics show that in a period of fewer than two years, 3.6 Million license plates were scanned using ALPR technology.
How Do They Prove The Case?
Driving while prohibited cases are unique. The Crown must prove only that the person charged was driving, was prohibited, and knew he or she was prohibited. Evidentiary shortcuts in the Motor Vehicle Act allow the Crown to introduce documentary evidence, such as the driving record, letters from ICBC/OSMV, and Certificates from the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles or President of ICBC as proof of these facts. The documentary evidence creates a rebuttable presumption that the accused knew he or she was prohibited. Which makes defending these cases more difficult, although certainly not impossible.
There are defences to driving while prohibited charges. Mens rea must be proven. But knowing these defences involves a lot of research and particular knowledge. There are some defences that no longer work for driving while prohibited charges.
Many people, on learning that a driving while prohibited charge is a Motor Vehicle Act offence, do not think the charges are serious. This is a mistake.
The consequences for driving while prohibited are significant. On a first conviction, the mandatory minimum penalty is a $500 fine and a one-year driving prohibition, pursuant to Section 99 of the Motor Vehicle Act. On a subsequent conviction, there is a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and a mandatory jail sentence of no less than 14 days. These cases must therefore be taken seriously.