Ontario has very strict laws and heavy fines for not following traffic laws. One of the penalties that can seriously affect your driving record is a ticket for driving without a licence. It may seem obvious that a person should not drive without a licence. However, in a country that receives thousands of new people every year, there may be some who don’t know the rules of the road. Unfortunately, there are also some drivers who simply, by their own ignorance, choose to do it anyway. Read on to learn more about what classifies an unlicensed driver in Ontario.

How do you receive this classification?

Am I considered an unlicensed driver if my licence is expired?

Yes, you will be. An unlicensed driver is not only a driver who has not gone through the process necessary to obtain a licence. Unlicensed drivers may also have an invalid licence because it is either suspended, revoked, inappropriate, expired, or cancelled/denied. Any driver who is driving without proper qualifications is considered unlicensed.

Can you own a car in Ontario without a driver’s licence?

Without a valid Ontario driver’s licence, you will not be able to purchase a car, or even get car insurance, in Canada.

What are the consequences of driving without a licence?

You must hold a valid licence of the appropriate class for the vehicle you are driving. This rule applies to anyone driving a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s licence. If you have a driver’s licence that has now expired and you do not renew it, you can be guilty of this offence. Upon conviction of driving as an unlicensed driver, the different penalties are:

  • Fines of between $200–$1,000
  • A conviction on your driving record for three years
  • Demerit points
  • Rise in insurance rates
  • Potential jail time

Driver’s licence renewal

Do I have to take my driving test again if I forget to renew my licence?

Possibly. Typically, your driver’s licence expiry dates are synced up with your licence plate sticker expiry. It is easy to either renew online or in-person if it is only a little overdue. However, if you let your licence stay expired for too long, you will have to restart the licensing process from the beginning. If your driver’s licence has been expired for more than three years, you’ll have to reapply for a licence and meet all the requirements of graduated licensing, including passing the G1 and G2 tests.

Can I renew my licence online?

Renewing your licence in Ontario is easy if you don’t need a new photo and don’t have any outstanding fines. As well, if you don’t need any tests (vision, written or road) and you have a full G, D or M licence, you can renew online. If you can’t renew online, you can go to any ServiceOntario centre to renew. Find more information about renewals on the ServiceOntario website.

How can I get reminders about renewing my licence?

In September of 2021, the province reinstated renewal requirements for driver’s licences, licence plate stickers, and licence plates. You can choose to have ServiceOntario remind you by way of email, SMS/text or automated voicemail reminders, 30 and 60 days in advance of their renewal date. (Click here to sign up for ServiceOntario digital renewal reminders.) Once you receive the ServiceOntario digital renewal reminders, you can then renew these documents through ServiceOntario.ca, where over 40 transaction services are available online, 24/7.

Can I drive with a temporary licence?

When renewing your licence at a ServiceOntario branch, you will need to sign the form, show identification, pay a fee and have your photograph taken (if necessary). If your documents are in order, you’ll receive a temporary licence on the spot. Your permanent one will be sent to your mailing address. You must carry the temporary licence with you whenever you drive. If/when a police officer requests to see your driving paperwork, your temporary licence is valid until your permanent licence arrives in the mail.

How long does it take to get your licence in the mail?

You will receive your new driver’s licence in the mail within 4 to 6 weeks from ServiceOntario.

Suspended licence

Do you have 24 hours to produce your licence in Ontario?

No. It’s a myth that you have 24 hours to produce your licence. You must always have it on you while driving, period. Police officers always have discretion, but it’s a $110 fine in Ontario for not producing your licence when asked. Without it, you will be considered an unlicensed driver. The court may cancel the ticket, but only after you’ve gone through the hassle of showing up with it in court.

Can I drive with a licence suspension?

Every person who drives a motor vehicle while their driver’s licence is under suspension is guilty of an offence, and can face:

  • A fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000 for a first offence; and
  • Each subsequent offence, a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $5,000. OR imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both.

Licence suspensions mean that the driver is banned from driving a motor vehicle on the roadway for any reason in the province of Ontario.

Does a licence suspension stay on my record?

Yes, for three years. If you are unlicensed driver due to a suspension, that information stays on your driving record for between 90 days and three years, depending on the severity of the offence.

What’s the cost of reinstating my licence?

Once your suspension time frame has elapsed, the price to reinstate your driver’s license is $281. If your licence suspension is due to a medical reason, the fee does not apply. It’s important to note that applicable fees for the written and road tests may apply if you need to take them.

What happens if I get into an accident without a valid licence?

Should you get into a car accident while your licence is not valid, your insurance company can refuse to cover the damage. Unfortunately, you can then be personally responsible for any property damage and personal injuries out-of-pocket. Additionally, if you suffer injuries from the accident, not having a valid licence can also prevent you from being able to sue an at-fault driver.

How does driving without a licence affect my car insurance rates?

This penalty can increase your car insurance rates. It’s hard to predict, but the increase tends to be anywhere between 20% and 25%. The main reason for this is that driving without a licence is a crime, and insurance companies will be aware of this when giving you a rate. It is also considered very dangerous since  you are putting the lives of other people at risk by not being authorized to drive.

Remember, your insurance policy is only valid if you are authorized by-law to operate a vehicle, meaning a valid driver’s licence. Speak with one of our isure brokers today about how your premiums can be affected as an unlicensed driver in Ontario.

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