For most Canadians that are of legal age, driving is just another aspect of normal life. The size of our country means that we’ve had the luxury of building “outwards” instead of “upwards” so even our cities tend to be sprawling in area, rather than dense collections of towers all reaching for the sky. This means that most adults will have to get a driver’s license and use an automobile to carry out daily activities, whether that’s driving to work, or simply going to a restaurant on the weekend to enjoy a good meal with friends and family.
However, no one is perfect. Mistakes are made, sometimes bad choices occur, and other times accidents simply happen. Very few people will ever have a driving life that is completely uneventful, and sometimes the police may be involved. If the police intervene because of something you’ve done, whether knowingly or not, you’ll be convicted of a traffic offence. Now, that’s not a criminal conviction, so it’s not going to affect your career or travel prospects, but that doesn’t mean there are no consequences for driving errors that accumulate over time.
If you begin to create a bad driving record for yourself in Ontario, for example, here’s what can happen to you.
Demerits Build Up
Ontario uses a demerit system to keep track of driving offences. This means that all driving violations that are caught and responded to by the police will involve not just a ticket and a fine to pay, but the addition of demerit points. Those demerit points however, are not permanent. If you drive without incident and don’t commit more violations, in a few years demerits will eventually be removed.
On the other hand, if you continue to drive poorly and the violations accumulate, so do the demerit points. Ontario drivers that start building up demerit points have two points at which they are crossing the border into actions that can seriously affect their ability to drive.
The First Warning
If an Ontario driver accumulates nine demerit points, then the province has the authority to call that driver in and conduct an interview. At this point, the driver will need to defend him or herself and explain during the interview why they should be allowed to keep driving, despite the high number of points.
Keep in mind; nine demerit points does not guarantee that an interview will happen, but, for example, if all nine of those points were accumulated within a very short period of time, like a month, or even a week, the odds are much higher that an interview will be requested.
At 15 demerit points, a driver’s license will be suspended. Obviously, there will be plenty of warnings and cautions before this point is reached, but this is simply too many violations for a driver to be considered fit and safe on the road. You can eventually regain your license after this, however, but there may still be consequences.
Insurance & Provincial Fees
Different insurance companies have different policies, so what happens to a driver with many demerits will vary from one insurance provider to another. But in some cases, having many demerit points may also result in raising your car insurance. You’ve now proven yourself to be a risk that has a significantly higher chance of getting into an accident and, subsequently, forcing your insurance company to pay out to an accident victim. Some companies will compensate for this by making you pay more.
On the provincial side of things, too many demerits, or past violations like license suspensions may mean you will have to pay higher fees when it comes time to renew your license. Once again, the demerits have proven that you’re a higher than usual risk on the road, so the province needs to compensate for the fact that someone with demonstrably poorer driving skills is still out in public.
Fixing the Problem
The solution to this problem is as easy to say as it is difficult to implement. Simply be a better, safer driver. If you don’t speed, don’t follow too closely, don’t make poor turns, or any other number of traffic violations, you’ll stay out of trouble. If you already have demerits, these will go away in time with continued good driving. If you don’t have any demerits, don’t start accumulating them now.