A common misconception when drivers discuss their driving record and any offences they may have is that poor driving points are “lost,” not accumulated. In this article, we will discuss what a driving record is, what happens when an offence is committed and how the violation will result in points being added to your driving record. We also take a closer look at what a driving record of 9 means in the province of Ontario.

What is a clean driving record?

A clean driving record simply means you have no tickets, driving infractions or accidents linked to your driver’s license. All drivers start out with a clean driving record. However, if you have never been in an accident or received a traffic ticket, your record is probably clean.

The demerit point system

Demerit points are given to drivers for breaking certain driving laws in Ontario. The rules are different depending on if you are a new driver or have a full license, but everyone starts with zero and has them added when driving infractions occur. They serve as a report card of your driving history. More information on the demerit point system can be found at ontario.ca.

Do we ‘lose’ points if we are convicted of an offence?

Contrary to popular belief, when committing an offence, we don’t “lose” demerit points on our driving record. Every new driver starts out with a score of 0 and points are gained for being convicted of breaking traffic laws. It is a system devised to make drivers accountable for their actions on the road.

How are the demerit points applied?

The number of points added to your driving record depends on the type of the offence committed. Here are a few examples of the number of points given for different violations:

  • 7 demerit points for failing to remain at the scene of an accident or failing to stop when told to do so by a police officer
  • 6 demerit points for careless driving, racing, exceeding the speed limit by 50km+/hour or for failing to stop for a school bus
  • 5 demerit points for failing to stop at an unprotected railway crossing
  • 4 demerit points for exceeding the speed limit by 30-49 km/hour or following another car too closely (tailgating)
  • 3 demerit points driving while holding or using a hand-held wireless communications or entertainment device, other forms of distracted driving, exceeding the speed limit by 16 to 29 km/hour, failing to report a collision to a police officer or failing to obey a stop sign, traffic control stop/slow sign
  • 2 demerit points for improper right turn/left turn, failing to obey traffic signs, driver failing to wear a seatbelt, failing to signal or failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing

How long do demerit points stay on my record?

Demerit points stay on your record for two years from the offence date. If you collect enough points or accumulate a driving record of 9, you may be in danger of losing your license.

What are the penalties for demerit points on my record?

According to ontario.ca, the consequences for gaining demerit points depends on how many you have added to your driving record. It will also depend on whether or not you are a new driver or if you have a full license.

As a driver with a full license, if you have:

2 to 8 points:
You will be sent a warning letter.

9 to 14 points:
You will be sent a second warning letter encouraging you to improve your driving behaviour.

**Possible driving suspension – you will need to have a driving record interview. At the interview, you will have to present reasons why your license should not be suspended.

15+ points:
Your license will be suspended for 30 days.

As a novice driver with a G1, G2, M1, M2, M1-L or M2-L license, if you have:

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+ points:
Your license will be suspended for 60 days.

What happens once my license is suspended?

When your license is suspended, you will get a letter from the Ministry of Transportation. It will tell you the date your suspension takes effect and that you need to surrender your license. If you fail to surrender your license, you can lose your license for up to two years.

What happens once my suspension is completed?

You may need to take your vision, written and road tests again. Once you’ve passed your tests, your license will be reinstated and your record will be reduced:

    • With a full licence, your points will be reduced to seven
    • If you have a novice licence, your points will be reduced to four

These points will stay on your licence for two years.

Does this system only apply to driving in Ontario?

No. If you have been convicted on another driving offence in another Canadian province or the state of New York or Michigan, demerit points will be added to your driving record just as they would be if the offence happened in Ontario.

Can you gain demerit points with all traffic tickets?

The good news is not all traffic tickets will land you demerit points. Unfortunately, these tickets will still require you to pay a fine. Tickets with no demerit points are typically categorized as minor offences.

As illustrated above, a person’s driving record is affected by the types and number of certain driving laws broken in Ontario. As well, the type of license held and the years of experience a driver has also play a factor.

What does a driving record of 9 mean in Ontario?

Well, if you are a fully licensed and experienced driver with nine demerit points or more, you will be sent two warning letters encouraging you to improve your driving safety and awareness of traffic laws in the province.

However, if you are a novice driver with a record of 9 in Ontario, the situation is quite different. Your driver’s license will be suspended for 60 days and after surrendering your license, you may need to retake the vision, written or road test again. Afterwards, the demerit points on your record will be reduced down to four. Any new points gained will require you to go back for an interview with the MTO. It should be noted that if you reach too many points again, your license will be suspended for another six months.

Where can I get a copy of my driving record?

You can obtain a copy of your driving record from Service Ontario. A certified driver’s abstract will cost $18, whereas a complete driver’s record will cost $48 (uncertified) and $54 (certified).

How does my driving record affect my insurance?   

Having a copy of your driver’s abstract when shopping for car insurance is a good idea. It can help you better understand how insurers determine the amount you will pay.

It is reasonable to assume that a bad driving record will impact the type and cost of car insurance that is made available to you. Your driving record can impact you in a number of ways:

  • Increased costs: You can expect to pay more for your insurance.
  • Insurance: You may have trouble getting insured altogether.
  • Being dropped: Your current company can choose not to renew your coverage.

Demerit points in Ontario are in place to keep drivers obedient to the rules of the road and to practice responsible driving. Accumulating a driving record of 9 in Ontario could mean a possible license suspension, as well as a possible increase in car insurance rates. Speak with one of our isure brokers to better understand how your record can affect your rates.

Related articles:
Demerit points in Ontario
Everything you need to know about Ontario’s new safety laws for drivers
What are the average car insurance rates for Ontarians in 2021?

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