Nearly every driver gets pulled over by a police officer at least once in their driving lifetime. While a single offence won't hinder your car insurance rates or ability to drive, repeated infractions can result in demerit points and the eventual suspension of your driver's licence.
With this in mind, it's in your best interest to learn how demerit points in Ontario work, the most common types of demerit-causing traffic tickets, and how your driving record can affect your ability to get behind the wheel.
Demerit points, also known as points on your licence, are a way of determining your overall driving record and risk behind the wheel. Every Ontario driver, whether they have a G, G1, or G2 licence, starts with zero points. For each violation they have while driving, they receive a certain number of demerit points toward their licence. While a small accumulation of points will result in a warning letter, a large number of points can result in licence suspension.
Traffic offences are listed on the Highway Traffic Act, which is periodically updated by the provincial government. In total, the act lists about 100 different offences, including going the wrong way down a one-way street, failing to yield to an emergency vehicle, or getting a speeding ticket. If you break one of these laws, a conviction adds points to your licence based on the type of offence.
It's important to note that demerit points are only given if you're convicted of the violation in question and you pay the ticket within 15 days of the offence — paying the ticket is an admission of guilt. If you choose to fight the case and win, the demerit points fall off your record. However, this may require you to hire a lawyer. You'll have to weigh the cost of fighting a case versus paying the ticket as well as potential car insurance rate increases.
If you’re convicted of breaking a traffic law and you receive demerit points, these will stay on your record for two years. Traffic convictions stay on your record for three years.
For example, let's say you get two demerit points on May 1, 2021. They fall off your record on May 1, 2023. The conviction still stays on your record for three years. This information is used primarily when you're trying to get an insurance quote or a police officer runs your record.
If your licence is suspended, that information stays on your driving record for between 90 days and three years, depending on the severity of the offence.
The demerit points system assigns a certain number of points to your licence depending on the offence. A single offence puts somewhere between two to seven demerit points on your record, but the number of points for your offence is the same regardless of your driver's licence (G, G1, or G2).
Because G1 licence holders are typically new drivers or beginners, they have more severe consequences than unrestricted G licence holders. Here's a breakdown of what happens depending on the number of demerits you receive as a G1 driver:
G1 drivers may also have their licence suspended for any offence that has four or more demerit points, such as:
Holders of a G2 licence are still deemed to be novice drivers and have the same laws regarding the number of demerit points as G1 drivers. If your licence is suspended, you can get it back after the stated number of days, but your demerit points are only reduced to four (same for G1 drivers).
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation and the provincial government give more leeway to those who hold an unrestricted G license. Fully licenced drivers can still run into trouble if they receive too many demerit points as follows:
If you get more than 15 demerit points you may have to retake your written exam and driving test. Once you get your licence back, your demerit points are reduced to seven.
Canadian drivers who routinely leave Ontario for business or pleasure won't necessarily escape demerits on their Ontario driving record. Every province across Canada reports demerit points, so the MTO knows if you've incurred any traffic violations.
The states of Michigan and New York also have a reciprocal process where the government reports traffic offences to the Ontario government. If you're pulled over for any offence in these places, you'll receive demerit points on your Ontario licence.
As mentioned, demerit points are determined by the severity of the offence. These offences range from two to seven points. Some of the most common types of tickets that cause demerit points in Ontario include:
Surprisingly, no traffic offences in Ontario give the driver five points, unless you're a bus driver who fails to yield at an unprotected railway crossing signal.
Keep in mind that this isn't an exhaustive list. Reviewing all the offences listed is the only way to know what you might face if you're pulled over.
Although most traffic offences come with demerit points, there are some exceptions to the rule. Two of the most common tickets that won't put demerits on your licence include:
Despite the lack of demerit points, you'll still have to pay the fine or fight the ticket in court. In addition, the rate from your insurance company may increase due to these zero-demerit offences.
If you have a clean driving record that's free of Ontario demerit points, you've already saved money on insurance costs and potential fines. You may as well take those extra dollars you saved and put them into something you've always wanted: a new ride.
With SUVs, hybrids, electric vehicles, and sports cars in our inventory, we have the ride you want at a price you'll love. Plus, with other perks like a trade-in estimator, delivery to your home, and a 210-point inspection, you can skip the hassles that come with traditional car purchases at the dealership. So treat yourself and let Clutch do the heavy lifting. Nothing's better than a clean driving record to accompany your new car.