Understanding demerit points

By HUB SmartCoverage Team on April 26th, 2022

There’s one important thing to know about demerit points – you don’t want them.

That’s because they are added to your driving record if you are convicted of breaking certain driving laws.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, “the demerit point system encourages drivers to improve their behaviour and protects people from drivers who abuse the privilege of driving.”

Demerit points stay on your record for two years from the offence date. If you collect enough points, you can lose your driver’s licence. The rules differ depending on if you are a new driver or have a full licence.

You can also get demerit points on an Ontario driver’s licence when violating laws in other Canadian provinces and territories, and the states of New York and Michigan.

How do I check my demerit points in Ontario?

You can check your demerit points by ordering a driver’s record online, in person at a Service Ontario location, by mail, or by fax.

An uncertified 3-year driver record costs $12 and is the most affordable way to check your demerit point total. If you order online or in person, you will get your uncertified record immediately.

A 3-year certified driver record costs $18. It takes fifteen business days to process and is mailed through Canada Post.

Uncertified and certified 5-year driver records cost the same as 3-year records, and both take 15 days to process. It is more comprehensive and includes your demerit point total, the past three years of convictions and penalties for Highway Traffic Act infractions, and a five-year history of driving offences under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Finally, a complete driver record costs $48 or $54, depending on whether it’s certified. It will include your demerit point information as well as a history of driving convictions, licence suspensions, and reinstatements as well as collision records.

driver’s licence history won’t include your demerit point total.

RELATED READING:More details on how to get your driving record

What is the maximum demerit points you can have in Ontario?

As a fully licensed driver, you can accumulate up to 15 demerit points before your driver’s licence is suspended. Here’s what happens:

  • 2 to 8: You will receive a letter of warning.
  • 9 to 14: Your driver’s licence could be suspended, and you may have to attend a meeting to discuss your driving and why your licence should not be suspended at this time. There is a $50 fee for the demerit point meeting.
  • 15 or more: You will receive an automatic 30-day licence suspension. You will be required to surrender your driver’s licence. You can do this in person at any Service Ontario. (Not at DriveTest centres.)

Failure to surrender your driver’s licence could result in a 2-year suspension. Once the suspension is over, you may need to take a vision, written, and road test again. If you pass, your licence will be reinstated, and the demerit points reduced to 7.

If you are a new driver if you have a G1, G2, M1, M2, M1-L, or M2-L licence and face different consequences for adding demerit points.

  • 2 to 5 points: You will be sent a warning letter.
  • 6 to 8 points:You will be sent a second warning letter encouraging you to improve your driving behaviour.
  • 9 or more points:Your licence will be suspended for 60 days.

Like a driver with a full licence, you’ll receive a letter and will have to surrender your licence. If you don’t, you lose it for up to two years. After the suspension is over, your points will be reduced to 4.

Escalating Penalties

If you are a novice driver and have committed an offence resulting in demerit points, you may also receive a licence suspension or cancellation under Ontario’s Escalating Sanctions. These apply if you are:

  • convicted of breaking graduated licensing rules
  • convicted of a Highway Traffic Act offence that results in four or more demerit points (e.g., street racing, careless driving)
  • subject to a court-ordered suspension for a Highway Traffic Act offence that would have otherwise resulted in four or more demerit points

For a first offence: your driver’s licence is suspended for 30 days.

For a second offence: your driver’s licence is suspended for 90 days.

For a third offence: you will lose your novice licence. You will need to re-apply for your licence and start all over, taking all tests and paying all fees. You will also lose any time discount you earned, any time you were credited, and any fees you have paid.

Any new points added to your record could bring you back for an interview. If you reach too many points again, your licence will be suspended for another 6 months.

Not all tickets mean demerit points

Some tickets don’t add demerit points, but you’ll be stuck with a fine. Tickets with no demerit points are typically minor offences. Here are some of the ways you could be affected:

Speeding

The number of demerit points you receive for speeding will depend on how fast you were going. For example:

  • 6 points: Exceeding the speed limit by 50 km/h or more
  • 4 points: Exceeding the speed limit by 30 to 49 km/h
  • 3 points: Exceeding the speed limit by 16 to 29 km/h

Distracted Driving

Whether it’s texting or eating at the wheel, your demerit points will be affected by:

  • First: 3 demerit points
  • Second: 6 demerit points (in addition to the first 3)
  • Third: 6 demerit points

Novice drivers are not subject to demerit points for distracted driving, but they will face fines, a licence suspension or cancellation.

If you face distracted and careless driving fines, you could see 6 demerit points, fines of up to $2,000 and/or a jail term of six months, and up to two-year licence suspension.

Failing To Wear a Seatbelt

Seatbelts are all about safety. And if you are convicted for not wearing one, you’ll face 2 demerit points. But there are three instances of failing to wear a seatbelt where you can be charged:

  • Driver failing to wear a seatbelt.
  • Driver failing to ensure passenger under 16 years is wearing seatbelt.
  • Driver failing to ensure passenger under 16 years is occupying a position without a seatbelt.

RELATED READING: Ontario Ministry of Transportation list of offences and demerit points.

How do demerit points affect my car insurance?

Demerit points do not directly affect car insurance. It's being convicted of traffic violation that can impact your insurance costs. A single minor conviction has minimal impact. But multiple convictions or a major one will increase your costs.

However, not all offences that earn demerit points affect your insurance rate. And not all violations that affect your insurance or result in legal consequences will add demerit points to your driving record.

Driving offences that don’t earn demerit points:

  • Driving without insurance. A conviction will come with a fine and make your future insurance costs more expensive.
  • Red light camera tickets result in a fine for a vehicle’s owner. They can’t be attached to a demerit increase because the driver can’t be reliably identified.
  • Impaired/Drug driving charges are more severe offences governed under the Criminal Code of Canada. Penalties include such things as fines, immediate licence suspension, and jail time.

OTHER READING:18 auto insurance discounts you may not know about

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