If a police officer stops you for driving while talking on your cellphone without using a hands-free device can cost up to $1,000 in fines if you fight it in court and lose. In fact, the cost of that ticket could be far greater than the fine you must pay under the demerit points system in Ontario. Accumulating too many demerit points could lead to the suspension of your driver’s licence.
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What are demerit points, and how do you get them?
Certain driving offences result in demerit points being placed on your driving record by the Ministry of Transportation. The system is authorized by the Highway Traffic Act.
As a general rule, the more serious the driving offence, the more points are added to your driving record. For example, failing to stop when directed to do so by a police officer adds seven demerit points to your record if you are convicted of the offence. An improper right turn, on the other hand, is only two demerit points.
Some of the other driving offences for which demerit points are assessed against you include the following:
- Seven demerit points: Leaving the scene of an accident
- Six demerit points: Careless driving, passing a stopped school bus or doing 50km/h or more over the speed limit
- Five demerit points: Bus drivers failing to stop at unprotected railway crossings
- Four demerit points: Exceeding the speed limit by 30 to 49 km/h
- Three demerit points: Improper passing, exceeding the speed limit by 16 to 29 km/h or failing to yield
- Two demerit points: Failing to signal, driving without wearing a seat belt, or failing to obey signs
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Demerit points can also be imposed for offences committed outside of the province of Ontario. Offenses committed in another province in Canada or in the states of New York and Michigan, demerit points will be added to your driving record for the following offences as though they happened in Ontario:
- Failing to obey a stop sign or a traffic signal
- Careless driving
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Failing to stop for a stopped school bus
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Consequences of demerit points
Demerit points remain on your record for two years following the date of the offence for which they were imposed. The effect of the points depends on the type of licence issued to you. For instance, if you have a full licence and accumulate up to eight points, you will receive a warning letter, but you may have to attend an interview and prove why your licence should not be suspended.
If you have a full licence with 15 or more demerit points you must surrender it and serve a 30-day suspension. Your licence will be returned to you at the end of the suspension and seven points are removed from your driving record.
Novice licenses are suspended once the person accumulates nine or more demerit points. The suspension is for 60 days, but at the end of the suspension only four demerit points are removed from the driving record.
Drivers who fail to surrender their licences upon being notified of a suspension face stiff penalties. The Ministry of Transportation can issue a two-year suspension for failing to surrender the licence.
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Thepersonal injury lawyers at Diamond & Diamondare ready to help drivers injured through the negligence and carelessness of others. When you think you need a lawyer, contact our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now about your claim. Consultations are free, and we have offices throughout Ontario.