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Long weekend road trip? Here’s how an Ontario driving ticket can impact your auto insurance

Traffic tickets are expensive, but it doesn’t stop there – you could see a substantial increase in your auto insurance rate. So to ensure you're paying the cheapest premium possible, be sure to compare car insurance quotes with us today.

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Taking a road trip this long weekend with your family and friends? Getting a ticket is probably the last thing on your mind, but with a large number of vehicles on the road and the possibility of increased police presence, one small driving mistake can lead to large consequences. So here’s everything you need to know about Ontario traffic tickets (and how it impacts your car insurance). 


How do driving tickets impact your car insurance rate?

It’s important to note that simply receiving a ticket isn’t necessarily the factor that causes your insurance rate to increase – instead, you actually need to be convicted of the offence. In Ontario, a ticket turns into a conviction when you pay the ticket (admitting to a fault) or when you fight the ticket in court and lose. You can also get convicted for the driving offence if you don’t do anything at all (i.e. not paying the ticket in time, not filing the ticket for court or not showing up to trial). 

Once you're convicted, it can be difficult to predict the exact dollar amount your Ontario car insurance rate will increase as this is largely dependent on two factors:

  • Your auto insurance company – While some insurers hike rates up as soon as you have one minor blemish on record, there are also car insurance companies that don’t weigh traffic tickets as extensively when calculating your premium. That’s why it’s important to shop around for the best car insurance quote when your policy is up for renewal. 

  • Your driving conviction – Parking tickets don’t impact your rates in any way while a DUI conviction can put you in the high-risk category when shopping for auto coverage. So the rate increase you see on your premium is highly dependent on the type of traffic ticket you receive (and of course, whether you’re convicted or not). And if you have multiple convictions on record, you can expect the cost of your auto policy to rise with each one. 

Keep in mind that you won’t see rate hikes immediately after you pay your ticket or lose in court. Car insurance premiums are typically locked in for the entire term of your policy, so you won’t notice an increase until it comes time to renew your coverage. That being said, let’s take a look at three different traffic tickets and their potential impact on the price you pay for Ontario car insurance: distracted driving, speeding, and careless driving. 


Distracted driving and your car insurance

In Ontario, you can receive a distracted driving ticket for the use of a hand-held device, such as your phone, while driving on the road. If you need to use one for communication or navigation purposes, it either has to be hands-free (e.g. Bluetooth), built into your vehicle or mounted securely on the dashboard. 


Ontario penalties for distracted driving convictions

So what are the penalties that come with a distracted driving ticket? If you’re a G-licensed driver (and it’s your first conviction), you’ll be subject to the following consequences – subsequent convictions for distracted driving can lead to even larger penalties:

  • A fine of $615 (if you settle out of court)
  • A fine of $1,000 (if you're summoned to court, or you fight the ticket and lose in court)
  • 3 demerit points
  • 3-day suspension


How do distracted driving tickets affect insurance quotes?

Most providers will increase your auto policy’s rate due to a distracted driving conviction. According to Ratehub.ca’s car insurance calculator, the monthly insurance premium for a hypothetical driver with a recent distracted driving conviction shot up by about 133% while upon a second offence, rates increased by about 167%.

Distracted driving convictions

Monthly insurance rate

Rate increase

0

$128.67

-

1

$300.33

133.42%

2

$343.33

166.84%


Methodology:
Monthly insurance rates are an average of the three cheapest options available. Rates are calculated for a 35-year-old male who drives a 2022 Honda CRV in Toronto, Ontario. 

The auto insurance policy consists of $1 million in liability coverage and a $1,000 deductible for both collision and comprehensive insurance. 


Speeding tickets and your car insurance

While a speeding ticket is quite self-explanatory, the penalties for receiving one are not as simple – so here’s what you need to know if you’re pulled over for driving too fast. 


Ontario penalties for speeding convictions

If you’re convicted of speeding in Ontario with a G license, the number of demerit points you’ll receive on your driving record is dependent on how fast over the limit you were going:

  • 3 demerit points for going 16-29 km/h over the limit 
  • 4 demerit points for going 30-49 km/h over the limit
  • 6 demerit points for going 50 km/h or more over the limit

The fine you’re charged with is also dependent on how much over the speed limit you were travelling at. The table below outlines the charges you’ll be subject to, according to the Ontario Court of Justice.  

Speed over maximum limit

Fine (per km)

1-19 km/h

$2.50

20-29 km/h

$3.75

30-49 km/h

$6.00

50 km/h or more

Settle in court


So if you were travelling at 25 km/h over the speed limit, this number would be multiplied by $3.75 to get to a set fine of $93.75. Keep in mind that this isn’t all you’ll be charged with as Ontario adds a
victim surcharge fine and court fine of $5.00 to most tickets. And if you were speeding in a high-risk area – such as a construction zone while a worker was present or a community safety zone – be prepared to pay an even higher fine. 


How do speeding tickets affect insurance quotes?

While speeding does tend to increase your auto insurance premium, it typically won’t drive up rates to the same extent as a distracted driving premium. According to Ratehub.ca’s auto insurance calculator, the same hypothetical driver received a rate hike of about 19% due to one speeding ticket. As a result of a second speeding ticket, the cost of car insurance increased by nearly 30%. 

Speeding convictions

Monthly insurance rate

Rate increase

0

$128.67

-

1

$152.67

18.65%

2

$166.67

29.53%


Note:
Monthly insurance rates are an average of the three cheapest options available.

READ: Speeding tickets and your Ontario auto insurance


Does a speed camera ticket affect insurance quotes?

Generally speaking, tickets issued from photo radars won’t impact your insurance rate because the camera doesn’t pick up the driver – the ticket is simply issued to the vehicle owner. So these types of tickets (as well as red light camera tickets) won’t be added to your driving history. It would be unfair to tarnish your clean record because you lent your ride to a careless friend. Police-issued speeding tickets, on the other hand, are a different story because you can be identified as the driver that was speeding. 

READ: Do Ontario speed camera tickets impact insurance rates?

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Careless driving and your car insurance

Careless driving is one of the more ambiguous charges under Ontario’s traffic laws – according to the Highway Traffic Act, “Every person is guilty of the offence of careless driving and driving carelessly who drives a vehicle on a highway without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway.” While this charge essentially means you weren’t careful enough on the road, leading to the endangerment of others, it can include risky driving behaviour, such as:

  • Tailgating another car
  • Failing to yield to pedestrians
  • Eating or drinking while driving
  • Getting into a motor vehicle accident


Ontario penalties for careless driving convictions

Careless driving is one of the more serious traffic convictions in Ontario – here are the penalties you could face (in any license class), depending on whether your actions caused bodily harm or death to another person. 

Penalties

Careless driving

(no bodily harm/death)

Careless driving 

(bodily harm/death)

Fine

$400 - $2,000

$2,000 - $50,000

Demerit points

6 demerit points 

6 demerit points 

License suspension

2 years or less

5 years or less

Imprisonment

6 months or less

2 years or less


Keep in mind that some of these numbers are worst-case scenarios, and it's not common for courts to apply license suspensions and jail time. As a novice driver, however, your license will be suspended for 30 days upon conviction because you’ll be over the limit of four demerit points. 


How do careless driving tickets affect insurance quotes?

Careless driving is a far more serious offence, so you can expect your rates to increase far more substantially after a conviction – this time, the hypothetical driver’s monthly car premium increased by over six times the initial rate. And after a second conviction? The cost for coverage shot up almost ten times. 

Careless driving convictions

Monthly insurance rate

Rate increase

0

$111.50

-

1

$783.00

602.24%

2

$1,201.00

977.13%


Note:
Monthly insurance rates are an average of the two cheapest options available.


Distracted, careless, and dangerous driving – what’s the difference?

While distracted driving tickets are issued for the use of hand-held devices while operating a vehicle, you could face a careless driving charge if the distraction endangers other people. 

Dangerous driving, on the other hand, is a criminal charge that can result in more severe penalties, including a license suspension and possible jail time. According to the Criminal Code of Canada, “Everyone commits an offence who operates a conveyance in a manner that, having regard to all of the circumstances, is dangerous to the public.” Essentially, the main difference between careless and dangerous driving is intent – if you purposely failed to yield to a pedestrian at a crosswalk, causing danger to others, this would fall under dangerous driving. If convicted, it’ll go on your criminal record, and you can expect a substantial rate hike when shopping for car insurance.


FAQ: Ontario traffic tickets and your auto insurance

How long do traffic tickets affect insurance rates?


Do demerit points affect auto insurance rates?


Can all high-risk drivers get auto insurance?


How can you get cheap car insurance after a driving ticket?



Summary: Ontario traffic tickets and your auto insurance

In short, here are the five key takeaways from this article on how an Ontario traffic ticket could impact your car insurance rate this long weekend:

  1. Police-issued tickets come with rate increases – so if you want cheap car insurance, keep your driving record as clean as possible.

  2. Speed camera tickets, as well as red light camera tickets, won't hike up your insurance premium as it would be unfair to penalize the vehicle owner if they lent out their car to a careless friend. 

  3. Ticket convictions only stay on your record for three years, so your auto insurance will only be impacted during this time. Criminal convictions, however, can last up to six years. 

  4. Demerit points don't necessarily impact your insurance rate. Auto insurance companies look at your driving record instead.

  5. If you have too many convictions (or even one serious charge), you may need high-risk auto insurance from a specialized provider. And in the worst-case scenario, you may need a policy from the Facility Association – but don't expect it to be cheap. 


Also read

Can you get affordable car insurance after a DUI?

How much is car insurance in Toronto?

Inflation in Canada – what it means for your auto insurance

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