Driving Infractions, Tickets and Penalties

A speedometer that is approaching 120 km/hour which means the driver is speeding.

The penalty you incur for a driving infraction depends on the type of traffic ticket you receive. Tickets typically fall into three classifications: minor, major, and serious convictions, the latter which includes criminal acts. All ticket classifications, regardless of the fine or possible demerit points, can affect your insurance rate. Read more to learn about the types of tickets and their respective ramifications.

Minor, Major, and Serious/Criminal Driving Infractions:

The following is a list of some of the most common types of minor, major, and serious/criminal convictions that will likely affect your car insurance rate.

Minor Tickets

  • Defective brakes
  • Driver's licence violations
  • Driving with an insecure load
  • Driving without an up-to-date inspection sticker
  • Failing to share the road
  • Failing to signal
  • Failure to use seatbelts
  • Failing to yield to another vehicle or pedestrian
  • Failure to surrender your licence to authority
  • Failure to produce evidence of insurance to authority
  • Failure to carry an insurance card
  • Following too closely (tailgating)
  • Headlight offences
  • Improper driving in a bus lane
  • Improper opening of a door
  • Improper passing, lane change or turn
  • Improper railway crossing
  • Improper towing
  • Improper use of divided highway
  • Obstruction of licence plate
  • Obstructing traffic
  • Overloading (too many people in the car)
  • Speeding
  • Stop sign or traffic light infraction
  • Unnecessary noise
  • Unnecessary slow driving
  • Unsafe move
  • Unsafe or prohibited turn
  • Unsafe vehicle
  • Use of radar warning device

Major Tickets

  • False statement of insurance
  • Failure to follow restrictions in a school zone or improper passing zone
  • Failing to report an accident
  • Failure to report damage to highway property
  • Failing to stop or improper passing at a school bus
  • Operating motor vehicle with no insurance
  • Producing false evidence of licence or insurance
  • Speeding in a construction zone
  • Violating licence restrictions (non-alcohol related)
  • Distracted driving including:
  • Use of a phone or other hand-held wireless communication device to text or dial
  • Use of a hand-held electronic entertainment device, such as a tablet or portable gaming console
  • Viewing display screens unrelated to driving, such as watching a video
  • Programing a GPS device, except by voice commands

Serious Tickets and Criminal Convictions

  • Careless or dangerous driving
  • Criminal negligence
  • Driving impaired (blood alcohol level over 0.08 in Ontario)
  • Driving uninsured
  • Failing to obey police
  • Failing to remain at an accident scene
  • Motor manslaughter
  • Racing
  • Refusing a breathalyzer test
  • Speeding 50 km over the posted speed limit (or set limit in your province)
  • Stunting
  • Violating licence restrictions (alcohol-related)

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Your Driver's Abstract Shows Your Driving Infractions

A driver's abstract is a document issued by your province's Ministry of Transportation that reports on the status of your licence. Your abstract states the type of licence you have, the date you were first licensed, your renewal date, and any tickets, convictions, suspensions, or reinstatements you've received over the last three years.

If you’re interested in seeing what’s on your record, you can get a copy of your driver’s abstract. In Ontario, for example, you can get your driver's record for $12 (for a 3-year driver’s record) from the Ministry of Transportation. Certified copies cost $18.

Demerit Points from Tickets 

When you break the law, you may receive demerit points, which go on your driver's abstract. Demerit points determine whether you can renew your driver's licence or if you need to be re-tested.

Drivers begin with zero demerit points and accumulate points with certain convictions. Too many points within two years can cause your province's Ministry of Transportation to suspend your licence.

More serious infractions result in more demerit points. Tickets may carry anywhere from zero to seven demerit points. To illustrate, below are the demerit points you'll get for speeding in Ontario:

  • 16 to 29 km over the limit: 3 points
  • 30 to 49 km over the limit: 4 points
  • 50+ km over the limit: 6 points

Some offences, like speeding fewer than 15 km over the speed limit, might carry no demerit points at all. Offences earning seven demerit points include failing to remain at the scene of a collision and failing to stop when signalled or asked by a police officer.

See how many demerit points you’ll get for speeding in Alberta and speeding in Quebec.

Too Many Demerit Points Can Mean Serious Penalties 

Too many demerit points can carry significant penalties in Ontario:

  • 2-8 points: you will receive a warning letter
  • 9-14 points: you will need to pay $50 to attend a meeting and explain why your licence shouldn't be suspended. If you are unsuccessful, your licence will be suspended.
  • 15+ points: your licence will be suspended for 30 days.

Your insurance company may raise your premiums after a ticket, regardless of whether the driving infraction penalizes you with demerit points.

Parking Tickets

Parking tickets do not raise your insurance rates or go on your driver's abstract. However, unpaid parking tickets may prevent you from renewing your licence plate.

Tickets Affect Car Insurance Rates

While getting a traffic ticket will likely cause your premiums to increase, the exact amount is difficult to predict. Car insurance rates can vary significantly from company to company. The easiest way to find which insurance companies offer the best price is to compare insurance rates for free at InsuranceHotline.com.