Driving While Disqualified (Repealed Offence)

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Driving While Disqualified
s. 259 of the Crim. Code
Election / Plea
Crown Election Hybrid
summary proceedings must initiate within 12 months of the offence (786(2))
Jurisdiction Prov. Court

Sup. Court w/ Jury (*)
Sup. Court w/ Judge-alone (*)

* Must be indictable. Preliminary inquiry also available.
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)
Minimum None
Maximum 2 years less a day jail and/or a $5,000 fine (from Sept 19, 2019)
Indictable Dispositions
Avail. Disp. same as summary
Minimum None
Maximum 5 years incarceration
Offence Elements
Sentence Digests


Offences relating to driving while disqualified are found in Part VIII of the Criminal Code concerning "Offences Against the Person and Reputation".

Crown Election Defence Election
s. 536(2)
Preliminary Inquiry
s. 259 [driving while disqualified] Hybrid Offence(s) OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png (* only if Crown proceeds by Indictment)

Offences under s. 259 [driving while disqualified] are hybrid with a Crown election. If prosecuted by indictment, there is a Defence election of Court under s. 536(2).

Offence(s) Appearance Notice
by Peace Officer

s. 497
by Judge or Justice

s. 508(1), 512(1), or 788
Release by
Peace Officer
on Undertaking

s. 498, 499, and 501
Release By
a Judge or Justice
on a Release Order

s. 515 to 519
Direct to Attend
for Fingerprints, etc.
Identification of Criminals Act

s. 2 ID Crim. Act
s. 259 [driving while disqualified] OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png

When charged under s. 259 [driving while disqualified], the accused can be given an appearance notice without arrest under s. 497 or a summons. If arrested, he can be released by the arresting officer under s. 498 or 499 on an undertaking with or without conditions. He can also be released by a justice under s. 515.

If police decide to bring the accused before a Justice pursuant to s. 503, there will be a presumption against bail (i.e. a reverse onus) if the offence, prosecuted by indictment, was committed:

  • while at large under s. 515 [bail release], 679 or 680 [release pending appeal or review of appeal] (s. 515(6)(a)(i));
  • "for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association" with a criminal organization (s. 515(6)(a)(ii));
  • where the offence involved a firearm, cross-bow, prohibited weapon restricted weapon, prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or explosive substance, while the accused was subject to a prohibition order preventing possession of these items (s. 515(6)(a)(viii)); or
  • where the accused is not "ordinarily a resident in Canada" (s. 515(6)(b)).

A peace officer who charges a person under s. 259 [driving while disqualified] of the Code can require that person to attend for the taking of fingerprints, photographs or other similar recordings that are used to identify them under the Identification of Criminals Act.

Publication Bans

For all criminal or regulatory prosecutions, there is a discretionary general publication ban available on application of the Crown, victim or witness to prohibit the publishing of "any information that could identify the victim or witness" under s. 486.5(1) where it is "necessary" for the "proper administration of justice". Other available publication bans include prohibitions for publishing evidence or other information arising from a bail hearing (s. 517), preliminary inquiry (s. 539) or jury trial (s. 648). There is a mandatory publication ban in all youth prosecutions on information tending to identify young accused under s. 110 of the YCJA or young victims under s. 111 of the YCJA.

Offence Designations
Offence(s) Wiretap

s. 183
Dangerous Offender
Designated Offence

s. 752
Serious Personal
Injury Offence

s. 752
AG Consent Required Serious Criminality
s. 36 IRPA
s. 259 [driving while disqualified] X Mark Symbol.png X Mark Symbol.png X Mark Symbol.png X Mark Symbol.png

See below in Ancillary Sentencing Orders for details on designations relating to sentencing orders.

Offence Wording

s. 259
[omitted (1), (1.01), (1.1), (1.2), (2), (2.1), (3), (3.1), (3.2), (3.3) and (3.4)]

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).
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 259; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 36, c. 1 (4th Supp.), s. 18(F), c. 32 (4th Supp.), s. 62; 1995, c. 22, ss. 10, 18; 1997, c. 18, s. 11; 1999, c. 32, s. 5(Preamble); 2000, c. 2, s. 2; 2001, c. 37, s. 1; 2006, c. 14, s. 3; 2008, c. 6, s. 26, c. 18, s. 8.


Note up: 259(4) and (5)

Proof of the Offence

Proving driving while disqualified under s. 259(4) should include:

  1. identity of accused as culprit
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)
  4. the culprit operated a vehicle
  5. that the vehicle was a "motor vehicle"
  6. operation occurred on a "street, road, highway or other public place"
  7. the culprit's licence was suspended by a court order at the time (use certificate of suspension)
  8. time and date of the prohibition
  9. that a copy of the order was given to the culprit (or mailed to him)
  10. that the order was read to the culprit
  11. the culprit was not registered in the alcohol ignition interlock device program, or was not in compliance with the conditions of the program

Interpretation of the Offence

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]

The Criminal Code cannot impose criminal penalties for breaches of provincial disqualification or prohibition from driving. The penalty must arise from a criminal offence.[3]

One of the essential elements of the offence includes proof that the acute was not "registered in an alcohol ignition interlock device program" or if registered, was not in compliance with the conditions of the program.[4]

  1. R v Gale, [1995] A.J. No 295(*no CanLII links)
    R v Lock, 1974 CanLII 517 (ONCA), [1974] OJ No 1938 (ONCA), per Martin JA
  2. R v Liptak, 2009 ABPC 342 (CanLII), per Fradsham J (acquitted)
    R v Whatmore, 2011 ABPC 320 (CanLII), per Rosborough J (convicted)
    R v Johnston, 2011 MBPC 64 (CanLII), per Carlson J (convicted)
  3. R v Boggs, 1981 CanLII 39 (SCC), per Estey J
  4. R v Liptak, 2009 ABPC 342 (CanLII), per Fradsham J

Available Defences

Participation of Third Parties

See also: Role of the Victim and Third Parties and Testimonial Aids for Young, Disabled or Vulnerable Witnesses
Testimonial Aids

Certain persons who testify are entitled to make application for the use of testimonial aids: Exclusion of Public (s. 486), Use of a Testimonial Screen (s. 486), Access to Support Person While Testifying (s. 486.1), Close Proximity Video-link Testimony (s. 486.2), Self-Represented Cross-Examination Prohibition Order (s. 486.3), and Witness Security Order (s. 486.7).

A witness, victim or complainant may also request publication bans (s. 486.4, 486.5) and/or a Witness Identity Non-disclosure Order (s. 486.31). See also, Publication Bans, above.

On Finding of Guilt
Offence(s) Victim Notice
of Agreement
s. 606(4.1), (4.2)
Victim Notice
for Restitution
s. 738
Victim Notice
of Impact Statement
s. 722(2)
s. 259 [driving while disqualified]

Under s. 738, a judge must inquire from the Crown before sentencing whether "reasonable steps have been taken to provide the victims with an opportunity to indicate whether they are seeking restitution for their losses and damages".

Under s. 722(2), the judge must inquire "[a]s soon as feasible" before sentencing with the Crown "if reasonable steps have been taken to provide the victim with an opportunity to prepare" a victim impact statement. This will include any person "who has suffered, or is alleged to have suffered, physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss" as a result of the offence. Individuals representing a community impacted by the crime may file a statement under s. 722.2.

Sentencing Principles and Ranges

See also: Purpose and Principles of Sentencing, Sentencing Factors Relating to the Offender, and Sentencing Factors Relating to the Offence
Maximum Penalties
Offence(s) Crown
Maximum Penalty
s. 259 [driving while disqualified] summary election 2 years less a day jail and/or a $5,000 fine (from Sept 19, 2019)
s. 259 [driving while disqualified] indictable election 5 years incarceration

Offences under s. 259(4) are hybrid. If prosecuted by indictment, the maximum penalty is 5 years incarceration. If prosecuted by summary conviction, the maximum penalty is 2 years less a day jail and/or a $5,000 fine (from Sept 19, 2019).

Minimum Penalties

These offences have no mandatory minimum penalties.

Available Dispositions
Offence(s) Crown
s. 730

s. 731(1)(a)

s. 731(1)(b)
s. 718.3, 787
Custody and
s. 731(1)(b)
Custody and
s. 734
s. 742.1
s. 259(4) [driving while disqualified] any OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png

All dispositions are available.The judge may order a discharge (s. 730), suspended sentence (s. 731(1)(a)), fine (s. 731(1)(b)), custody (s. 718.3, 787), custody with probation (s. 731(1)(b)), custody with a fine (s. 734), or a conditional sentence (s. 742.1).

Consecutive Sentences

There are no statutory requirements that the sentences be consecutive.


Drivers who "continuously ignore driving prohibitions imposed in the context of drinking and driving offences must be deterred by the imposition of a significant custodial term."[1] In these cases the focus is on denunciation and deterrence.[2]

  1. R v Bighead, 2013 SKCA 63 (CanLII), per Herauf JA, at para 6
  2. Bighead, ibid., at para 6


see also: Driving While Disqualified (Sentencing Cases)

Ancillary Sentencing Orders

See also: Ancillary Orders
Offence-specific Orders
Order Conviction Description
DNA Orders s. 259(4) [driving while disqualified]
Driving Prohibition - Min. 1 year (1st time), 2 years (2nd time), 3 years (3rd time)
Forfeiture of Vehicle
General Sentencing Orders
Order Conviction Description
Non-communication order while offender in custody (s. 743.21) any The judge has the discretion to order that the offender be prohibited "from communicating...with any victim, witness or other person" while in custody except where the judge "considers [it] necessary" to communicate with them.
Restitution Orders (s. 738) any A discretionary Order is available for things such as the replacement value of the property; the pecuniary damages incurred from harm, expenses fleeing a domestic partner; or certain expenses arising from the commission of an offence under s.402.2 or 403.
Victim Fine Surcharge (s. 737) any A discretionary surcharge under s. 737 of 30% of any fine order imposed, $100 per summary conviction or $200 per indictable conviction. If the offence occurs on or after October 23, 2013, the order has smaller minimum amounts (15%, $50, or $100).
General Forfeiture Orders
Forfeiture Conviction Description
Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime (s. 462.37(1) or (2.01)) any Where there is a finding of guilt for an indictable offence under the Code or the CDSA in which property is "proceeds of crime" and offence was "committed in relation to that property", the property shall be forfeited to Her Majesty the Queen on application of the Crown.
Fine in Lieu of Forfeiture (s. 462.37(3)) any Where a Court is satisfied an order for the forfeiture of proceeds of crime under s. 462.37(1) or (2.01) can be made, but that property cannot be "made subject to an order", then the Court "may" order a fine in "an amount equal to the value of the property". Failure to pay the fine will result in a default judgement imposing a period of incarceration.
Forfeiture of Weapons or Firearms (s. 491) any Where there is finding of guilt for an offence where a "weapon, an imitation firearm, a prohibited device, any ammunition, any prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance was used in the commission of [the] offence and that thing has been seized and detained", or "that a person has committed an offence that involves, or the subject-matter of which is, a firearm, a cross-bow, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance has been seized and detained, that the item be an enumerated weapon or related item be connected to the offence", then there will be a mandatory forfeiture order. However, under s. 491(2), if the lawful owner "was not a party to the offence" and the judge has "no reasonable grounds to believe that the thing would or might be used in the commission of an offence", then it should be returned to the lawful owner.
Forfeiture of Offence-related Property (s. 490.1) any Where there is a finding of guilt for an indictable offence, "any property is offence-related property" where (a) by means or in respect of which an indictable offence under this Act or the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act is committed, (b) that is used in any manner in connection with the commission of such an offence, or (c) that is intended to be used for committing such an offence". Such property is to be forfeited to Her Majesty in right of the province.

Record Suspensions and Pardons

Convictions under s. 259(4) are eligible for record suspensions pursuant to s. 3 and 4 of the Criminal Records Act after 5 years after the expiration of sentence for summary conviction offences and 10 years after the expiration of sentence for all other offences. The offender may not have the record suspended where the offender was (1) convicted of 3 or more offences with a maximum penalty of life, and (2) for each 3 offences he "was sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more".


See also: List of Criminal Code Amendments and Table of Concordance (Criminal Code)

See Also