Many Ontarians remain on the road despite suspended licenses

Published: November 16, 2018

Updated: November 30, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Many Ontarians are driving without a valid driver’s license and most are completely unaware. According to the province’s ombudsman, drivers are victim of the “fundamentally flawed” system for notifying motorists when they license is suspended.

Paul Dube released a report this week that makes 42 recommendations for making the notification system more efficient and fairer for drivers. In an effort to keep motorists better informed, Dube’s recommendations have already been addressed by the Ministry of Transportation.

Driver licenses are typically suspended for unpaid fines but many drivers are not properly informed. Dube referenced one woman who found out her license was suspended four years after she received a speeding ticket.

The customer had paid the fine but was unaware she needed to also pay to reinstate the license. She insists no notice was ever given that her license was suspended. Dube says many drivers are likely in the same situation, given around 90,000 motorists have their license suspended in Ontario each year.

“In 2017, an estimated 5,000 of the notices that were mailed to them were returned to the ministry, undelivered … but the ministry doesn’t track returned mail so it has no record of which drivers didn’t get the notices,” he said.

“We have heard from drivers who went for years without knowing their licenses were suspended,” Dube said.

“When they finally found out, it was through their insurance company or police, not the ministry – which then treated them as brand new drivers, requiring them to go through the graduated licensing program to have their licenses reinstated,” he said.

“Even when the system works as intended, we found it is fundamentally flawed,” the ombudsman added.