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When you get a ticket in Ontario, you pay a fine and generally earn demerit points. The number of points will depend on the what offense you’ve committed. At the end of this article is a complete list of violations and their associated demerit points.

A common misconception about demerit points is that they automatically increase your insurance rates. It’s the conviction — being found guilty of an offense associated with demerit points — that leads to increased insurance rates.

When re-setting your car insurance premium — the money you pay every month to be insured — after you’re given demerit points by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, three factors will determine the rate hike:

Was it a minor conviction? If you went online with Onlia for your car insurance, your first minor conviction will not affect your car insurance premiums at all (and neither will your first little car accident because of our Accident Forgiveness policy). For your second minor conviction, you can expect to pay upwards of 20% more for your car insurance and 20% more with every additional minor conviction.

Was it a major conviction? Most of these have to do with driving dangerously in areas with a high volume of children (like near a school). If convicted of something like this, your premiums will most likely rise by at least a quarter.

Was it a serious or criminal conviction? These will involve very high speeds or alcohol (and usually both), and your rates will most likely double, assuming you get to keep your licence.

What about tickets from a speed camera? You’ll pay a fine, but you will not earn demerit points because the camera will have no way of knowing who was driving. Without this, the offence can’t be added to a driver’s history.

Penalties for demerit points

The consequences for gaining demerit points depend on how many you have added to your driving record.

  • 6 to 8 points: You will be sent a warning letter.
  • 9 to 14 points: You will be sent a second warning letter encouraging you to improve your driving behaviour.
  • 15+ points: Your licence will be suspended for 30 days. When your licence is suspended, you will get a letter from the Ministry of Transportation. It will tell you the date your suspension takes effect and that you need to surrender your licence. If you do not surrender your licence, you can lose your licence for up to two years.

3 traffic tickets to avoid if you don’t want your insurance rates to spike

While you should be steering clear of all tickets, these would be especially wise to avoid: 

  • DUI: This stands for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It’s the maximum amount of demerit points and counts as a criminal conviction.
  • Distracted driving: This is an easy one to avoid and a smart one to avoid because it’s 3 points and close to $500 in fines. So put your phone away.
  • Careless driving: If you stay within the speed limit and focus on the road, you should be able to avoid this one. If you don’t, you’re looking at six demerit points.

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How long will demerit points stay on an Ontario driving record?

Demerit points will remain on your record for two years from the date of the offence. Note that it’s NOT the date of conviction. However, a conviction will stay on your driving record for three years.

Offences and their associated demerit points

7 demerit points for:

  • Failing to remain at the scene of a collision
  • Failing to stop when signalled or asked by a police officer

6 demerit points for:

  • Careless driving
  • Racing
  • Exceeding the speed limit by 40 km/h or more on roads with a speed limit of less than 80 km/h
  • Exceeding the speed limit by 50 km/h or more
  • Failing to stop for a school bus

5 demerit points for:

  • Failing to stop at an unprotected railway crossing (for bus drivers only)

4 demerit points for:

  • Exceeding the speed limit by 30 to 49 km/h
  • Following too closely
  • Failing to stop at a pedestrian crossover

3 demerit points for:

  • Driving while holding or using a hand-held wireless communications or entertainment device
  • Driving while viewing a display screen unrelated to the driving task
  • Exceeding the speed limit by 16 to 29 km/h
  • Driving through, around or under a railway crossing barrier
  • Driving the wrong way on a divided road
  • Driving or operating a vehicle on a closed road
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way
  • Failing to obey a stop sign, traffic control stop/slow sign, traffic light or railway crossing signal
  • Failing to obey the directions of a police officer
  • Failing to report a collision to a police officer
  • Failing to slow and carefully pass a stopped emergency vehicle or a tow truck with its amber lights flashing
  • Failing to move, where possible, into another lane when passing a stopped emergency vehicle or a tow truck with its amber lights flashing
  • Improper passing
  • Improper driving when the road is divided into lanes
  • Going the wrong way on a one-way road
  • Crossing a divided road where no proper crossing is provided
  • Crowding the driver’s seat
  • Driving a vehicle equipped with a radar detector
  • Improper use of a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane

2 demerit points for:

  • Improper right turn
  • Improper left turn
  • Improper opening of a vehicle door
  • Prohibited turns
  • Towing people — on toboggans, bicycles, skis
  • Unnecessary slow driving
  • Backing on highway
  • Failing to lower headlamp beams
  • Failing to obey signs
  • Failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing
  • Failing to share the road
  • Failing to signal
  • Driver failing to wear a seat belt
  • Driver failing to ensure infant/child passenger is properly secured in an appropriate child restraint system or booster seat
  • Driver failing to ensure that a passenger less than 23 kg is properly secured
  • Driver failing to ensure that a passenger under 16 years is wearing a seat belt
  • Driver failing to ensure that a passenger under 16 years is sitting in a seat that has a seatbelt

The best way to avoid demerit points is to drive safely. Incidentally, that’s also the way to earn up to $480 a year if you drive with the Onlia Insurance App, which you can download here.

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