Blog Ontario Driving Convictions

Feb 26, 2024

Your guide to traffic convictions: common offences and their consequences in Ontario

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Driving convictions in Ontario carry substantial implications for drivers, impacting various facets ranging from insurance premiums to driving privileges. Every driver on the road must grasp the intricacies surrounding convictions.

Beyond merely settling a fine, a driving offence conviction in Ontario transcends immediate repercussions. It influences both short-term and enduring aspects of a driver's life. These ramifications span across legal implications, financial burdens, and escalated Ontario car insurance, emphasizing the consequences associated with driving convictions that reverberate far beyond the confines of the courtroom.

In this blog, you’ll learn what defines a driving conviction, the three categories of convictions, and the role of traffic tickets.

Three main takeaways about driving convictions

  • A driving conviction occurs when a driver is found guilty of violating traffic laws or regulations while operating a motor vehicle, and it can result in various penalties and consequences imposed by the legal system.
  • If you have too many convictions on your record, you face issues getting standard coverage and may need to pay more for non-standard insurance for your automobile.
  • Convictions are broken down into three categories - minor, major, and serious.

What’s on this page

What are driving convictions?
The 3 types of traffic convictions in Ontario
What is the difference between a conviction and a ticket?
When does a ticket become a conviction?
How much do convictions increase insurance?
How long do convictions stay on your record?
What is minor conviction protection coverage?
Driving convictions FAQs

What are driving convictions?

Driving convictions refer to legal judgments or findings of guilt against individuals who have violated traffic laws or regulations while driving a motor vehicle. These violations, also known as driving offences or infractions, can include a variety of behaviours, such as speeding, running red lights, impaired driving, reckless driving, and failure to yield, among others.

When a driver is convicted of a driving offence, they will usually face penalties imposed by the legal system. These penalties may include fines, demerit points added to the driver's record, suspension or revocation, mandatory participation in driver improvement programs, and, in severe cases, imprisonment.

Example of a driving conviction

An example of a driving conviction would be a driver getting stopped for speeding on an Ontario highway. If the driver is found to be exceeding the posted speed limit and is given a speeding ticket by law enforcement, they have committed a driving offence. Upon receiving the ticket, the driver can either pay the fine or dispute the ticket in court. Here is what the process may look like:

If the driver decides to pay the fine, they admit guilt and accept the consequences of the offence. This typically involves paying the specified fine and receiving demerit points on their record.

If the driver chooses to dispute the ticket in court, they can present their case and challenge the evidence against them. The court will then make a judgment based on the evidence presented.

If the driver is found guilty of the offence in court, they will be convicted of the driving offence. This conviction will result in penalties such as fines, demerits, and potentially other consequences like licence suspension or mandatory participation in driver training programs, depending on the severity of the offence and the driver's history.

It is crucial for drivers to understand the driving laws in their jurisdiction and to adhere to them to ensure their safety and the safety of others on the road. Additionally, knowing the potential consequences of driving convictions can help drivers make informed decisions and take steps to avoid violating traffic laws.

The 3 types of traffic convictions in Ontario

Here’s a breakdown of some examples of the types of convictions:

Serious or criminal conviction

  • DUI, blood alcohol over .08
  • Speeding over 50 km above the posted limit, or stunt driving
  • Driving uninsured
  • Refusing a breathalyzer
  • Failing to remain at the site of an accident
  • Racing

Major conviction

Minor conviction

  • Backing up – unsafe, illegal, improper
  • Brakes – none, inadequate, improper
  • Crowding driver’s seat
  • Door opening – illegal, obstructing traffic
  • Other moving offences – speeding, failure to stop at a stop sign
  • Driving recklessly

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What is the difference between a conviction and a ticket?

The difference between a conviction and a ticket lies in their legal implications and stages within the legal process. In essence, a ticket is the initial notice of an alleged violation. At the same time, a conviction is the legal determination of guilt resulting from the ticket's resolution through payment or adjudication in court.

A ticket is a written notice that a law enforcement officer issues to someone who has violated traffic laws or regulations. It is an official notification that includes details such as the nature of the violation, the incident's date and time, and any applicable fines or penalties.

A conviction occurs when a person who has been issued a ticket or charged with an offence is found guilty through a legal process. This process typically involves either admitting guilt and paying the fine associated with the ticket or contesting the ticket in court and being found guilty after a trial.

Convictions mean that the individual has been formally judged to have committed the offence and is legally responsible for the consequences, which may include fines, demerit points, license suspension, or other penalties depending on the severity of the offence and applicable laws.

When does a ticket become a conviction?

The conviction date impacts your insurance, not the ticket date.

Almost all of us worry immediately about our policy when we get a ticket. But it isn’t the actual ticket that impacts your rate; it’s being convicted for a driving offence that does.

Insurers care about the number and severity of drivers' driving convictions within three years. A ticket becomes a conviction when:

  • You pay the ticket: When you pay your ticket, you are pleading guilty to the offence.
  • You are convicted in court: You challenge the ticket in court and lose or get a reduced conviction.
  • You don’t pay the ticket or go to your trial: If you don’t pay your ticket within 15 days of getting the ticket or you don’t go to your trial a Justice of the Peace may convict you of the offence.

The effective date for the driving offence is the date you were “convicted” of the offence. So, the date you pay the ticket or the date you are convicted in court is the date used by insurance companies for the conviction.

You can learn more about tickets and fines at the Ontario Ministry Of The Attorney General website.

How much do convictions increase insurance?

Every insurance company has its policies on how they charge for driving convictions. Tickets can impact insurance because the severity and amount of tickets can raise red flags on your record.

Here are some general guidelines to help you understand the potential impacts:

  • Serious Or criminal convictions: You may be charged 100% more for each conviction.
  • Major convictions: You may be charged 25% more for each conviction.
  • Minor convictions:
    • 1 minor conviction: 1 minor conviction has no impact, but the driver will not be eligible for a conviction free discount.
    • 2 minor convictions: Some companies charge 20% more for 2 minor convictions and 20% more for each additional conviction.

How long do convictions stay on your record?

Convictions stay on your driving record for 3 years, starting from the conviction date. If the conviction impacts a driver’s insurance, the increased rates will be reflected upon a three-year policy renewal. The same applies when a conviction falls off your driving record after three years. You will no longer be rated for the conviction, and your costs will drop.

Having three or more convictions can significantly raise your premiums

Regular or standard insurers have guidelines for the types of drivers they will insure. If you have too many convictions or more severe convictions, your company may not want to insure you anymore.

Three or more convictions or a combination of minor, major and/or serious convictions may mean your company will likely not renew your policy. You may need high-risk auto insurance in this case.

What is minor conviction protection coverage?

If you have a minor conviction on your record, your insurer may increase your premium. However, you can protect yourself against this by getting a minor conviction protection endorsement, which will forgive your first minor conviction and prevent your coverage from increasing.

It's important to note that minor conviction protection is an optional add-on to your policy and might cost you extra. Also, keep in mind that any additional minor convictions you get after the first one will count against your premium and could cause your rate to increase.

Each company has its own requirements for minor conviction protection, so it's advisable to speak with our brokers to learn more about your options.

Driving convictions FAQs

If you receive a ticket for speeding and are found guilty, you will have the conviction on your record for at least three years. There may be additional penalties and fines associated with the conviction.

A minor conviction is any offence that does not fall under a "major conviction" or a "criminal conviction." For instance, distracted driving, failing to report an accident, and speeding tickets are considered minor convictions. However, when a speeding ticket becomes a major conviction, the threshold may vary depending on the circumstances.

Are driving convictions impacting your premiums?

If you are unsure of your driving record and the conviction dates, getting a driver’s abstract (also called a driver's history report) can be helpful.

This will give you a good idea of what you might face when renewing your car insurance. When you get a quote, be honest about your tickets and convictions; this will help ensure your quote is accurate. Companies will run your reports and modify them based on your record.