Nobody likes getting stopped by the police. Most of us have. Regardless of how good a driver we are, most all of us have been caught speeding or going through a light or a stop sign. But in some cases, there are those who get stopped by the police too often! It’s for those drivers that demerit points in Ontario were designed.
And demerit points can certainly affect your car insurance rates.
The demerit point system in Ontario works by adding those points to your license for driving convictions (speeding demerit points are the most common in Ontario). The consequences differ depending on whether you’re a new driver or have a full license.
Each driver begins with zero points and accumulates them after being convicted of breaking certain traffic laws. Some violations are worth more points than others. Full details regarding demerit points under the Highway Traffic Act can be found on the Government of Ontario website.
Demerit points stay on your driving record for two years from the date the offence was recorded. If you collect enough points, you could lose your license. Here’s a breakdown of the demerit points system in Ontario.
Acts that earn demerit points in Ontario
A number of demerit points in Ontario are earned based on the severity of the offence. The following lists the some of the most common violations and their demerit point value, but it should be noted that driving while above the alcohol limit in Ontario can earn an immediate suspension of your license instead of demerit points.
In contrast, driving without insurance in Ontario doesn’t earn demerit points, but it does earn a fine. It would likely your insurance rates upon purchasing a policy, too, becoming more expensive in the long run. Red light camera tickets don’t earn them either because the cameras can’t verify the driver’s exact identity, but they will still earn fines.
Seven demerit points
- Committing a hit-and-run.
- Not stopping when signaled by a police officer.
Six demerit points
- Reckless driving.
- Exceeding the speed limit by 50 km/h or more.
- Street racing.
- Not stopping for a school bus.
Four demerit points
- Exceeding the speed limit by 30-49 km/h.
Three demerit points
- Distracted driving (most commonly texting and driving).
- Exceeding the speed limit by 16-29 km/h.
- Driving the wrong way.
- Driving on a closed road.
- Driving through or around a railway crossing barrier.
- Not obeying stop signs, traffic control signs or traffic lights.
- Not yielding the right-of-way.
- Refusing to obey a police officer.
- Improper passing.
- Improper use of HOV lanes.
Two demerit points
- Improper right or left turns.
- Any prohibited turns.
- Failure to obey signs and stop at pedestrian crossings.
- Refusing to use your signal lights.
- Going in reverse on a highway.
- Failure to wear a seatbelt and ensure passengers under 16 wear seat belts.
- Failure to ensure infants or children under 50lbs are secured or in a booster seat.
Penalties for demerit points in Ontario
The consequences for collecting demerit points depends on what type of license you have and how many points you’ve accumulated.
Drivers with full license
If you carry a full G license, you can expect a warning letter after gaining 2-8 demerit points. If you get 9-14 points, your license could be suspended and you may be asked to come in for an interview to discuss your driving record. The interview comes with a $50 fee, and failure to attend may result in your license being suspended. If you don’t pay the fee, your license will be cancelled.
Drivers with 15 points or more will have their license automatically suspended for 30 days. If you don’t surrender your license to the Ministry of Transportation, you can lose it for up to two years.
If you have a G1, G2, M1, M2, M1-L or M2-L license, the rules are different. If you get 2-5 points, you’ll receive a warning letter. Collecting 6-8 points means your license could be suspended and you may be asked to come in for an interview. The same rules apply as above. Nine points will get your license suspended for 60 days, and if you don’t surrender it you can lose it for up to two years.
Do demerit points in Ontario affect my car insurance?
No, they don’t. But convictions do. When determining your auto premium the insurance company will look at the type and class of conviction you received.
Your insurer cares about your driving record and calculates your premium based on any minor, major or (in the case of “Facility” insurers) criminal convictions with which you someone might have been charged. Demerit points are calculated by the Ontario Government and are used to administer driving licenses. While the demerit points are calculated based on the same moving violations that can affect your insurance, they are used solely to determine who is eligible to hold an Ontario driver’s license.
The severity of a conviction will affect how many demerit points are received. Minor moving violations range from 0-3 demerit points, while major and criminal moving violations could give you upwards of 6 demerit points. You can accumulate up to 15 demerit points before your license is suspended.
The three categories of driving convictions are:
- Minor driving convictions (e.g. speeding, failing to signal, not wearing a seat belt).
- Major driving convictions (e.g. not reporting an accident, not stopping for school buses, or driving uninsured).
- Criminal driving convictions (e.g. drunk driving, racing, or dangerous driving).
Regardless of the demerit points, each type of conviction will affect your insurance premium. Convictions stay on your driving record for three years from the date that you are convicted rather than the date that you receive the ticket.
This is the type of ticket that most people will experience. It includes:
- Most speeding tickets.
- Turning left where you aren’t supposed to.
- Not fully stopping at a red light.
A minor moving violation conviction may not impact your insurance rates, if you have an otherwise clean driving record.
Having multiple minor convictions will affect your insurance. The more convictions you have, the higher your insurance rate will rise, even as much as 25% per ticket in more severe cases.
These types of moving violations are rarer, but much more serious. They include:
- Driving without a license.
- Distracted driving.
- Failing to stop for a school bus.
Regardless of your past driving history, a major moving violation conviction is going to affect your premium in a very tangible way. Do your best to avoid these types of convictions to keep your insurance premium reasonable.
Multiple major violations or a combination of minor and major convictions will cause someone’s insurance rates to rise sharply.
A criminal moving violation is at the extreme end of the scale. This category includes:
- Reckless driving.
- Driving while impaired.
- Leaving the scene of an accident.
In most cases, a criminal moving violation conviction will result in your insurer cancelling your policy completely. Your only insurance options at that point are very pricey “Facility” type insurers.
How to check demerit points in Ontario
Don’t fret if you don’t know how many demerit points in Ontario are sitting on your license. You can check your Ontario driving record online or in person at a ServiceOntario location. The uncertified version is $12, while the certified version is $18.
Order one of these items to see your demerit points:
- Three-year driver’s record.
- Five-year driver’s record.
- Extended driver’s record.
- Complete driver’s record.
You can get by just ordering the three-year driver’s record, as demerit points stop counting toward your total after two years. But if you want a complete list for a longer period of time, then you can order that, too.
Do demerit points transfer between provinces?
Yes. Demerit points themselves attach themselves to the license even if the driver is in another province at the time. Demerit points can be earned anywhere in Canada, and even in the states of New York and Michigan due to frequent cross-border traffic.
The Government of Ontario says that these actions outside of the province will still earn demerit points on your license:
- Careless driving.
- Fleeing the scene of a collision (not including leaving for help or to call, as long as you return).
- Not stopping for school buses.
- Ignoring signal lights.
- Running through stop signs.
The Ontario demerit points system is designed to deter drivers from acting dangerously on roads. Insurance companies reward drivers with a clean driving record for a reason, too. It demonstrates that you understand and follow the rules of the road. The best way to avoid an insurance increase and demerit points is to drive safely and legally at all times.
Get a 3-minute car insurance quote here to see if any incidents have affected your rates!