Anyone who has spent a fair bit of time on the open road knows that driving requires practice, patience, experience and a little bit of confidence to boot.
If you don’t pay attention to the road or your surroundings or don’t have the best safe driving habits, you may find yourself in a situation where you could receive demerit points.
We get various questions about demerit points all of the time — one of the most common questions that we receive is, “do demerit points transfer between provinces and territories in Canada?”.
Do you want to learn more about getting demerit points in Canada? Be sure to continue reading.
What are demerit points in Canada?
Demerit points (also known as demerits or points) are given to drivers if they are convicted of breaking the law while driving on the road.
If you get too many demerit points, you can temporarily lose your driver’s license (we’ll touch on this again shortly).
How do demerit points work in Canada?
As mentioned above, you will receive demerit points if you break driving laws.
Drivers start with a total of zero points, and gradually earn points based on their behaviour, choices and actions while on the road.
If you’re convicted of breaking a driving law, you can receive anywhere from two to seven demerit points. The amount of points that you receive is directly influenced by the type and severity of the offense.
For instance, you can receive a maximum of two demerit points for making an improper turn (a relatively minor conviction). In contrast, you’ll receive seven demerit points if you flee the scene of a collision or fail to stop when signalled by the authorities. The latter offences are more severe, so, the convicted drivers would receive more demerit points for their actions.
What are the penalties for getting demerit points?
The penalty that you get for receiving demerit points depends on the type of driver’s license that you have.
For instance, if you’re a fully licensed driver in Ontario with a G driver’s license and you receive 15 (or more) demerit points, you are legally required to surrender your driver’s license (in person at a ServiceOntario or via mail) for 30 days.
If you choose not to surrender your driver’s license, you can lose your license for a maximum of two years.
On the other hand, if you are a new driver that isn’t fully licensed and receive nine (or more) demerit points, you are legally required to surrender your driver’s license (in person at a Service Ontario or via mail) for 60 days. Failing to surrender the required documentation can result in a long-term suspension of up to two years.
*Please note that each Canadian province has its own set of rules and regulations regarding demerit points*
With all that being said, it’s relatively easy to see that maintaining a clean driving record is worth the effort, especially if you don’t want to sacrifice your ability to drive.
Speaking of your driving record…
Does your driving record follow you to another province or territory in Canada?
In most cases, yes, your driving record does follow you if you move to another province or territory in Canada.
Most provinces (excluding Quebec, British Columbia and Nunavut) signed the Canadian Driver License Compact (CDLC) in 1990. The Canadian Driver License Compact allowed Canadian provinces and territories to share their residents driving records with each other.
So, if you get convicted of breaking a driving law in Ontario, and move to Alberta one year later, the offence will still be on your record.
*The provinces of Quebec and Ontario have their own agreement regarding the sharing of driving history*
Can you receive demerit points in other provinces, territories or countries?
Yes, if you’re convicted of breaking a driving law in another province or territory, you will receive demerit points.
In some cases, you can also receive demerit points for breaking driving laws in other countries, the United States. For instance, the province of Ontario has agreements with states like New York and Michigan. These agreements allow the Ontario government to convict motorists who break driving laws in these locations.
Here are some typical examples of offences that can result in demerit points (outside of Ontario):
- Careless driving
- Failing to acknowledge and obey road signs
- Failing to stop for a school bus
Do demerit points cause your car insurance rates to increase?
No, but at the same time, yes.
Technically, your insurance provider is more concerned with your conviction than the demerit points that came with said conviction. This is due to the fact that your driving history heavily influences your car insurance rates. So in a sense, if you’ve got a lot of demerit points, your car insurance rates are likely higher than they could be.
It’s important to note that every carrier gives drivers a ticket surcharge (sometimes as high as 25%), even on minor offences. Some examples of minor offences include:
- Failing to signal
- Making too much noise
- Having defective brakes or headlights
- Improper towing
Additionally, in certain provinces, like Alberta, getting a minor ticket can result in the loss of your conviction free discount.
That’s why we highly suggest that you avoid putting yourself in situations where you may end up getting a minor offence — it’s simply not worth the risk.
Click here for an in-depth look at how demerit points affect insurance rates.
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