The Ultimate Guide to Demerit Points in Ontario

By Arthur Dubois | Published on 09 Aug 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Demerit Points in Ontario

    Traffic violations can significantly impact your driving record and, as a result, how much you pay for car insurance. In Ontario, the Ministry of Transportation measures your actions through a demerit points system. Understanding how this system works is crucial for all drivers, as accumulating demerit points can lead to serious consequences.

    The accumulation of points reflects habits that will affect how insurance companies assess the risk to offer you coverage. Typically, your insurer won’t change your rates unless you get convicted of an irresponsible offence, such as stunt driving. However, when they check your driving records and find repeated tickets, they may refuse to renew your policy.

    Understanding the Ontario Demerit Points System

    In Ontario, demerit points track and monitor a driver’s behaviour on the road. These points get added to your driving record when you violate certain traffic offenses. The number of points assigned to each offense varies based on the severity of the violation.

    Driving on the roads of Ontario requires responsibility and adherence to traffic laws. The demerit points system holds drivers accountable for their actions, so let’s review how this system works.

    What are Demerit Points?

    Demerit points essentially serve as a penalty system that aims to discourage dangerous driving behaviour. When you commit a traffic violation, demerit points get added to your record. The more demerit points you accumulate, the higher the risk of facing penalties. These could range from license suspension, higher insurance premiums or even losing your driving privileges.

    Please note that demerit points are not the same as fines. Fines are monetary penalties that you must pay for breaking traffic laws. Meanwhile, demerit points build up on your driving record as a measure of your driving behaviour.

    How the Demerit Points System Works in Ontario

    Each traffic offense in Ontario is assigned a certain number of demerit points. These points remain on your record for two years from the conviction date. 

    People often talk about “losing” demerit points but the system works the other way around. Every driver begins with a clean slate and gathers points if they drive erratically. For instance, you pick up points if you violate driving laws in other parts of Canada, New York or Michigan. The fallout remains the same as if you broke the law in Ontario.

    In those jurisdictions, you earn demerit points for racing, speeding or failure to obey a stop sign or signal light. You also get penalized for driving carelessly, ignoring a school bus’s flashing lights or leaving the scene of a collision.

    Just like in Ontario, serious, criminal offences in other districts can result in a licence suspension. These include dangerous or impaired driving, criminal negligence, vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of a collision or driving while disqualified.

    If you accumulate too many points within a certain time period, you may face additional consequences. For instance, if you accumulate six demerit points, you will receive a warning letter from the Ministry of Transportation. This letter serves as a reminder to drive safely and avoid further violations. It gives you an opportunity to reflect on your driving habits and make necessary changes.

    Upon reaching nine points, a meeting will discuss and assess your driving behaviour to determine any further action. This addresses any recurring issues and seeks solutions to prevent future violations. When you accumulate fifteen or more points, your driver’s license can be suspended. 

    For new drivers, you get warnings sooner. If you have a G1, G2, M1, M2, M1-L or M2-L licence, you will receive a letter after 2 to 5 points. Next, a second warning letter comes at 6 to 8 points. 

    If you accumulate 9 or more points, your licence will get suspended for 60 days. If you don’t comply, you can lose your licence for up to two years. A second offence will take away your licence for 90 days. If you err a third time, you lose your novice licence.

    Penalties for accumulating demerit points in OntarioAmount of demerit points to trigger the penalty for regular driversAmount of demerit points to trigger the penalty for new drivers
    You’ll receive a warning letter.6 to 8 points2 to 5 points
    A follow-up warning letter will be sent, urging you to improve your driving habits.9 to 14 points6 to 8 points
    Your licence will be suspended for 30 days (60 days for new drivers)15+ points9 or more points

    Common Traffic Violations and Associated Demerit Points

    When it comes to traffic violations, several types can result in demerit points on your driver’s license. These black marks allow authorities to keep track of your driving record and ensure that repeat offenders face appropriate consequences. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common traffic violations and the demerit points associated with them.

    Speeding and Racing

    Undoubtedly, speeding stands as one of the most prevalent traffic violations. It occurs when a driver exceeds the posted speed limit, endangering themselves and others on the road. The number of demerit points assigned for speeding varies depending on how much you surpass the speed limit.

    For instance, if you are caught driving 31 to 50 km/h over the limit, you will receive four demerit points. This is a significant number of points and should serve as a deterrent for drivers who have a tendency to speed. 

    Meanwhile, street racing on public roads, which involves an illegal race with another vehicle, is an even more severe offense. It can result in six demerit points, along with losing your licence for up to three years. At worst, you could spend six months in jail or pay fines between $2,000 and $10,000.

    Distracted Driving

    In this age of constant smartphone use, distracted driving has become a growing concern. With the interruptions from smartphones and other devices, it’s easy to lose your focus while behind the wheel. Engaging in activities – such as using your phone, eating, or applying makeup – can divert your view from the road, leading to dangerous situations.

    Distracted driving is not only dangerous but also a traffic violation that can result in demerit points. If caught driving while distracted, you can expect to receive three demerit points on your license. In addition to demerit points, distracted driving also carries fines and potential license suspension, depending on the severity of the offense.

    Ultimately, you face a fine of $615 each time if you plead guilty. For first-time offenders, you also get a three-day suspension. This grows to seven days for a second offence and 30 days if you get caught a third time. If you fight the charge and lose, you pay $1,000, $2,000 and $3,000 respectively with each conviction.

    Driving with a Child without an Appropriate Car Seat

    Of course, adults must take care of their younger passengers. In Ontario, all drivers — even visitors from other regions — must belt in all children under the age of 8. Depending on their age, this could mean using a child car seat or booster seat. 

    If not, you could be charged. If convicted under the Highway Traffic Act, you could face a fine of $240 and gain two demerit points on your driving record.

    How Drivers Acquire Demerit Points

    A variety of traffic violations lead to the build-up on demerit points. While you should affect all these offences, here’s how each one contributes to your driving record.

    Number of demerit points
    Traffic Violations
    2 demerit pointsImproper turns; opening a car door into traffic; illegal turns; towing people on sleds, bikes or skis; unnecessary slow driving; not dimming headlights; ignoring traffic signs; not stopping for pedestrians; not signaling; driving without a seat belt; not securing a child in a car seat; backing onto a highway; not sharing the road; failing to ensure a person weighing less than 23 kg is properly secured; not checking to see if passengers under age 16 are in a seat with a seatbelt and that they use it
    3 demerit pointsUsing hand-held devices while driving; driving while watching an unrelated display screen; exceeding speed limit by 16-29 km/h; bypassing railway barriers; wrong-way driving on divided roads; using a closed road; not yielding right-of-way; ignoring stop signs, traffic control signs, traffic lights or railway crossing signals; disobeying police directions; not reporting collisions to police; not changing lanes for emergency or tow trucks; going the wrong way on a one-way street; improper passing; driving the wrong way on a one-way street; not driving in the right lane; traversing a divided highway at a non-crossing; cramming people in around the driver’s seat; using a radar detector in a vehicle; and using a high-occupancy vehicle lane improperly
    4 demerit pointsOver-speeding by 30 to 49 km/h, following too closely and not stopping at pedestrian crossings
    5 demerit pointsFailing to stop at an unprotected railway crossing (for bus drivers only)
    6 demerit pointsDriving carelessly, racing, over-speeding by 40 km/h on roads under 80 km/h limit; exceeding speed by 50 km/h or more; and not stopping for school buses
    7 demerit pointsLeaving after being involved in a collision and not stopping  when asked by a police officer. 

    The Impact of Demerit Points on Your Driving Record

    When it comes to demerit points, it helps to understand the full extent of their impact on your driving record. Naturally, many people know that accumulating demerit points can lead to a suspension of their driver’s license. However, you could encounter other, lesser known consequences.

    How Demerit Points Affect Your Driving Privileges

    Accumulating demerit points can have a direct impact on your driving privileges. As mentioned earlier, if you accumulate too many points within a specific time period, your driver’s license can be suspended. Losing your license can curtail your ability to commute, work or even maintain personal independence. On average, driving suspensions in Ontario last from 90 days but could go on for up to three years.

    How Demerit Points Can Lead to Higher Car insurance Premiums

    On paper, you cannot find a direct link between each demerit point and your car insurance premiums in Ontario. However, since insurance providers consider demerit points as an indication of higher risk, they may raise your premiums as a result. This means that not only will you face the inconvenience of a suspended license, but you’ll also have to bear the financial burden of higher insurance costs.

    Insurance companies may watch how you accumulate points to assess your appetite for risk. If you continually speed and get tickets, the odds of you ending up in a collision go up. However, if you get convicted of a serious driving offence, that will cross the line and your premiums will rise.

    Further, if you get so many tickets that you lose your licence to a suspension, that will also become part of your driving record. With a licence, you cannot buy insurance. Typically, once your licence gets suspended, you wear the label of a high-risk driver. That can result in insurance premiums increasing by 10 to 50 percent.

    When assessing your Ontario car insurance premiums, your insurance company factors in the type of conviction, either under the Highway Traffic Act or Criminal Code. The more serious the infraction, the greater the consequences.

    In other words, when you get demerit points, treat them like a warning to slow down and pay more attention to your driving. It will save you money in the end.

    The Long-term Consequences of Accumulating Demerit Points

    Accumulating demerit points can have long-term consequences that extend beyond license suspensions and higher insurance premiums. Remember, demerit points stay on your driving record for two years from the date of the conviction.

    During these two years, any potential employer or insurance provider can see the demerit points on your record. This can have a negative impact on your job prospects or your ability to secure affordable insurance coverage. 

    Even after the points have expired, certain violations may still impact your driving record and insurance rates, especially if they resulted in other penalties or collisions. Therefore, the ramifications of accumulating demerit points extend far beyond the immediate suspension of your driver’s license. 

    After your suspension ends, you may need to take tests to get your licence back. If you get your driver’s licence reinstated, you will start over with seven demerit points. Novice drivers get a new start with four. These points remain on your licence for a further two years. 

    Any new points could lead to a further review. If you build up too many points again, you will lose your licence for another six months.

    The impact can be felt in various aspects of your life, from your daily commute to your financial stability. Therefore, always prioritize safe and responsible driving to avoid the potential pitfalls associated with demerit points.

    How to Check Your Demerit Points in Ontario

    Accessing Your Driving Record

    If you want to check how many demerit points are currently on your driving record, you can request a copy of your record from the Ministry of Transportation. This will provide detailed information about your demerit points, fines, convictions, suspensions and reinstatements over the previous three years.

    Anyone with your driver’s licence number can request your driving record from the Ministry of Transportation. They cost $12 for an uncertified record and $18 for a certified one. You can order them online, by mail or in person at a nearby ServiceOntario centre.

    Ultimately, you will receive your driving record report either by mail or electronically, depending on the method you chose. Keep this report in a safe place in case you need to confirm your driving status with an employer or insurer.

    Understanding Your Driving Record Report

    Your driving record report shows you the number of demerit points you have accumulated, alongside any other penalties or convictions. This comprehensive report provides a holistic view of your driving history, allowing you to identify areas to improve.

    Furthermore, your driving record report may also include details about any driving courses, such as defensive driving or alcohol-education programs. These courses can help you reduce demerit points or reinstate your driver’s license if it has been suspended.

    Demerit Points in Ontario: The Bottom Line

    Clearly, demerit points can have serious consequences on your driving privileges. If you accumulate too many within a specific timeframe, your license may be suspended or revoked. Therefore, regularly reviewing your driving record report can help you stay proactive in maintaining a clean driving record. You can always learn from your errors in judgment and become a better driver as a result.

    FAQs About Demerit Points in Ontario

    How many demerit points can you get in Ontario?

    In Ontario, drivers who hold a full licence can accumulate up to 14 demerit points without facing a suspension. However, once they hit the 15-point mark, their licence gets suspended. On the other hand, novice drivers with licenses such as G1, G2, M1, M2, M1-L, or M2-L have a tighter limit; their licence can be suspended when they gather 9 demerit points or more.

    How many demerit points do you start with in Ontario?

    In Ontario, drivers start with zero demerit points. As they are convicted of breaking certain traffic laws, points get added to their record.

    How long do demerit points last in Ontario? 

    Demerit points in Ontario stay on a driver’s record for two years from the date of the offence. If a driver accumulates enough points during this period, there can be consequences, including potential suspension of their driver’s licence.

    How can I remove the demerit points from my record in Ontario? 

    In Ontario, demerit points are automatically removed from your driving record two years after the offence date. Drivers don’t have to take any specific action to have them removed. However, the conviction that resulted in those points may remain on the record for longer and can still be viewed by insurance companies and potential employers.

    How do demerit points affect car insurance in Ontario? 

    Accumulating demerit points can have a negative impact on car insurance premiums in Ontario. Insurance companies view drivers with demerit points as higher risk, which may lead to increased premiums. While each insurer has its own criteria for setting rates, drivers with more points are generally considered more likely to be involved in future collisions, leading to higher insurance costs. Additionally, even if the demerit points expire after two years, the convictions leading to those points may stay on a driver’s record for several years, potentially affecting insurance rates.

    Do you get demerit points for speeding in Ontario?

    In Ontario, drivers receive demerit points for speeding violations. The number of points received depends on the severity of the speed over the posted limit. For example, exceeding the speed limit by 16 to 29 km/h results in three demerit points or four for surpassing the speed limit by 30 to 49 km/h. Even more serious, you get six for going over the speed limit by 40 km/h or more on roads with a speed limit of less than 80 km/h or exceeding the speed limit by 50 km/h or more.

    How many demerit points can I get before my license is suspended in Ontario?

    In Ontario, fully licensed drivers can accumulate up to 14 demerit points without facing suspension. However, the 15-point threshold will result in the suspension of their license. For novice drivers holding licenses such as G1, G2, M1, M2, M1-L, or M2-L, a suspension is issued when they accrue 9 demerit points or more.

    How many demerit points are given for tailgating in Ontario?

    In Ontario, drivers who are convicted of following another vehicle too closely, commonly known as tailgating, are given four demerit points. This is in addition to any fines or other penalties that might be imposed by the court.

    How many demerit points can you get for careless driving in Ontario?

    If you are convicted of careless driving in Ontario, you can receive six demerit points on your driving record. This is in addition to potential fines, jail time, or a license suspension depending on the severity and circumstances of the offence.

    How many demerit points are there for drinking and driving in Ontario?

    In Ontario, there are no specific demerit points assigned solely for the act of drinking and driving. However, when impaired by alcohol, a driver can commit various traffic violations that carry demerit points. For instance, if someone is convicted of careless driving while under the influence, they can receive 6 demerit points. Similarly, failing to obey a stop sign, traffic light, or other traffic control can cost 3 demerit points. The primary consequences for drinking and driving are immediate license suspensions, fines, potential jail time and increased insurance premiums. This applies whether the offence occurs in Ontario, elsewhere in Canada or in the states of Michigan or New York.

    Do demerit points transfer between Alberta and Ontario?

    Yes, if you are convicted of a driving offence in Alberta that matches the specific traffic violations recognized by Ontario, demerit points will be added to your Ontario driving record as if the offence occurred within Ontario. The traffic offences from Alberta that transfer demerit points to Ontario include speeding, racing, failure to obey a stop sign or school bus flashing lights, leaving the scene of a collision, and careless driving.

    Do demerit points transfer between Ontario and Nova Scotia? 

    Yes, when an Ontario driver is convicted of a specific driving offence in Nova Scotia, the corresponding demerit points get applied to their record. Several traffic offences from Nova Scotia that result in demerit points in Ontario. These include speeding, passing a school bus, racing, failing to help at the scene of a collision and careless driving.

    Do Quebec demerit points count in Ontario? 

    Yes, if you are convicted of certain driving offences in Quebec, demerit points will be added to your Ontario driving record. In short, it’s as if the violation took place in Ontario. The specific traffic offences from Quebec that result in transferring Quebec demerit points to Ontario include excessive speeding, failure to yield a right of way, racing or taking an oversized load through a tunnel.

    Are demerit points written on the ticket in Ontario?

    No, demerit points do not appear on your traffic ticket. However, the Ministry of Transportation adds them to your driving record after you pay your ticket or are found guilty in court.

    How can I check my demerit points in Ontario?

    Type in driver’s licence number to request your driving record from the Ministry of Transportation. This document costs $12 for an uncertified record and $18 for a certified one. You can order one online, by mail or in person at a nearby ServiceOntario centre.

    How much can 2 demerit points cost me in terms of increased car insurance in Ontario?

    You can earn two demerit points by making an improper turn, driving without a seatbelt or disobeying traffic signs. Since these infractions don’t rank as serious, they likely will have zero impact on your car insurance rates. However, if you build up points to the point of having your licence suspended, then you’ll see your premiums rise by 10 to 50% when you renew.

    How much can 3 demerit points cost me in terms of increased car insurance in Ontario?

    You can pick up three demerit points by driving while holding a cell phone, going the wrong way on a highway or disobeying a police officer. These infractions are not serious on their own, but five violations will lead to you having your licence suspended. Alone, they probably won’t impact your car insurance rates. However, a suspended licence can boost your car insurance premiums significantly. How much can 4 demerit points cost me in terms of increased car insurance in Ontario?You can get four demerit points by tailgating, driving through a pedestrian crosswalk or speeding more than 30 km/h over the limit. It only takes four violations to get your licence suspended. If you only get four points and stop, your insurance rates likely will stay the same. But if you repeatedly take risks, your insurer will notice and could raise your rates.

    Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications