Even if you haven’t been pulled over before, you’ve probably heard the phrase “license and registration please,” coming from police officers on TV. What’s not usually talked about on TV is that in Canada, you’ll be asked for a pink slip declaring your car insurance policy. If you can’t produce proof that your vehicle is insured, you can receive a driving without insurance fine in Ontario.
The reality is that driving without insurance is against the law, resulting in fines and charges on your driving record. It might seem unfair, but the “driving without insurance” fine in Ontario exists because it puts you, your passengers, and others on the road at risk. People can’t be covered in an accident if they aren’t insured—and that’s precisely when people are most in need of support.
Purchasing insurance isn’t necessarily the most fun part of owning a car (it’s OK, we know!), but having insurance coverage should help you feel more confident on the road. If you or a secondary driver on your policy have been charged by the police for not having insurance, it’s a good time to start considering your insurance options to help protect yourself in the future.
The fine print on driving without insurance
It’s possible to be charged with two different driving convictions in Ontario related to driving without insurance:
- Operating or allowing a motor vehicle to be operated without insurance.
- Failure to show your insurance card upon a police officer’s request.
It’s possible to be ticketed and fined for failure to surrender your insurance card even if you do have insurance but either forgot to put your pink slip in your car or misplaced it. In this case, it would be worthwhile to prove you have insurance in court, which would likely lead to the charges being dropped. If you’re an aha insurance customer and you lost your pink slip, you can access a digital copy anytime right here.
Other insurance providers may offer a similar service for accessing your proof of insurance documents.
If you do have to pay a fine for not surrendering your insurance information, it will be recorded on your driver’s abstract for 3 years and could potentially affect how much you pay for insurance over that time period. Insurance companies check driving records to figure out if clients are safe or risky drivers, and driving without insurance will not help your rates in the future.
What if you don’t own the car?
Only the owner of a vehicle can be charged for driving without insurance because the owner is the only person responsible for making sure that the vehicle is properly insured. However, if you’re driving a car that you don’t own, you should still make sure that the insurance card is in the vehicle because you could still be charged with failure to surrender proof of insurance.
In addition, the owner of the car could still be charged for allowing a motor vehicle to be operated without insurance if a police officer chooses to investigate whether the vehicle was insured at the time you were pulled over. The police have up to three years to perform an investigation concerning insurance coverage.
You can see a more comprehensive list of Ontario’s traffic tickets and fines here in case you want to research a ticket further.
How much is a fine for driving without insurance in Ontario?
You will not be arrested for driving without insurance because it’s not a criminal offence, but Ontario does take it very seriously. You will be faced with other fines and penalties, such as having your car impounded. The Provincial Offence Act tacks on an additional 25% surcharge to your fine and (depending on the severity of your ticket) you could get your car impounded for up to 3 months.
If you are unable to show an officer your insurance card and you’re the owner of the vehicle you’re driving, you can be fined between $50.00 and $500.00 plus surcharge taxes. If you don’t show the police proof of insurance but you also don’t own the vehicle you’re operating, you can be fined $65.00. Otherwise, the fines in Ontario can be up to five thousand dollars plus a surcharge tax.
The fines grow if you’re caught more than once without insurance, though. Second and third offences can range from $10,000 to $50,000 fines, and a driver could also have their license suspended for a maximum of a year.
It may be possible to fight these fine in court even if the charges can’t be dropped. If you pay any of these fines without going to court, or if you go to court and the fines aren’t dropped, your MTO driver’s abstract will reflect the charges for 3 years and your insurance premiums could go up the next time your insurance provider reviews your policy as a result.
In Ontario, the minimum amount of third-party liability coverage required for your auto insurance is $200,000, but you can always buy more coverage.
If you need auto insurance to help you avoid a driving without insurance fine in Ontario, you can get a quote online in 3 minutes right here.