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Demerit Points Aren’t What You Should Be Worried About. Here’s Why.

Driving Tips
jason-baxtorJason Baxter

There’s no feeling quite like it. The combination of nervousness and fear you suddenly get when a police officer appears in front of you motioning you to pull over, or when you see the cruiser lights go on behind you. A million things flash through your mind. What did I do? Are they going to arrest me? And, the big one: will I get any demerit points that’ll make my insurance rates go up?

While it’s common to feel some anxiety when you’re pulled over for any reason, it shouldn’t just be about the number of demerit points you might get.  

Demerit Points & Why They Shouldn’t Be Your Biggest Concern

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation uses a demerit points system to penalize severe and/or repeated traffic violations. Here are a few demerit point’s facts.

  • You don’t lose demerit points. You start with zero and they are added to your driving record for some traffic violations.
  • They stay on your record for two years from the date of the offence.
  • You can get points for traffic convictions in other provinces and territories.
  • Penalties range from receiving a warning letter for two to eight points, to a driver’s license suspension of 30 days for 15 or more points.

Why Convictions Matter Most to Insurance Companies

There’s a misconception that you should be most concerned about your demerit points when you get a ticket. While points may affect your insurance rates, they are impacted more by the number and/or severity of the convictions. Here’s how:

  1. The Number of Traffic Tickets & Infractions
    Tickets and infractions are a sign to insurance companies of increased risk to re-offend. The more you have, regardless of demerit points, the higher the risk you represent to insurers. And the higher your insurance rates will go.

  2. The Severity of the Conviction
    Generally, insurance companies have three categories for convictions: minor, major and serious. Minor convictions include making an improper right turn (two points) or disobeying a stop sign or railway crossing signal (three points). Major convictions include exceeding the speed limit by 50km/hour or more (six points).

    You might accumulate six points from a series of minor convictions, but the major conviction of exceeding the speed limit by 50km/hour or more will likely have a greater impact on your insurance rates.

If you enjoyed this post, check out our recent article “5 Ways to Be a More Defensive Driver”.

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