Demerit points are used by the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario to measure the severity of an offence. If you get too many demerit points your driver’s licence could be suspended or could even be revoked. Novice drivers are especially vulnerable as they are allowed less demerit points compared to a driver with a full licence. Let’s take a look at how demerit points work…
THE PROCESS OF GETTING DEMERIT POINTS
The process of getting demerit points begins at roadside. Perhaps you’re over the speed limit or were involved in a collision. Maybe you’ve run a red light or were briefly using your cell phone. It could also have been that a Police Officer mistakenly believed that you had broken the law. Regardless, you find yourself pulled over at the side of the road with a Police Officer handing you a ticket or summons.
When a defendant is charged by the police, they have a couple of options. The first option is to simply plead guilty to the charge and live with the consequences of the conviction for court penalties, licencing, and insurance. The second option would be to contest the matter at court to see if the offence can be reduced to a lesser offence, or better yet, to see if an outright defence can be argued to have the offence thrown out completely.
If a conviction is registered against you by the court, that record of conviction will then be forwarded to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO). The MTO would then enter that record of conviction against your driver’s licence and apply the appropriate number of demerit points against your licence.
The MTO will also add demerit points against your driver’s licence for convictions in:
-other Canadian provinces and territories
-the State of New York
-the State of Michigan
HOW MANY DEMERIT POINTS?
Demerit points for a given offence can range anywhere from 0 demerit points for the most minor offences (such as speeding no more than 15 km/h over the posted speed limit) up to a maximum of 7 demerit points (for an offence such as failing to remain at the scene of a collision). Demerit points are active for a period of 2 years from the original offence date and will add up with any other offences in that period of time.
The following is a general listing from the MTO of demerit points penalties for the most common offences:
7 DEMERIT POINTS WILL BE ADDED IF YOU ARE CONVICTED OF:
- failing to remain at the scene of a collision
- failing to stop when signaled or asked by a police officer
6 DEMERIT POINTS WILL BE ADDED IF YOU ARE CONVICTED OF:
- careless driving
- exceeding the speed limit by 50 km/hour or more
- failing to stop for a school bus
5 DEMERIT POINTS WILL BE ADDED IF YOU ARE CONVICTED OF:
- failing to stop at an unprotected railway crossing (for bus drivers only)
4 DEMERIT POINTS WILL BE ADDED IF YOU ARE CONVICTED OF:
- exceeding the speed limit by 30 to 49 km/hour
- following too closely
3 DEMERIT POINTS WILL BE ADDED IF YOU ARE CONVICTED OF:
- driving while holding or using a hand-held wireless communications or entertainment device
- driving while viewing a display screen unrelated to the driving task
- exceeding the speed limit by 16 to 29 km/hour
- driving through, around or under a railway crossing barrier
- driving the wrong way on a divided road
- driving or operating a vehicle on a closed road
- failing to yield the right-of-way
- failing to obey a stop sign, traffic control stop/slow sign, traffic light or railway crossing signal
- failing to obey the directions of a police officer
- failing to report a collision to a police officer
- failing to slow and carefully pass a stopped emergency vehicle or a tow truck with its amber lights flashing
- failing to move, where possible, into another lane when passing a stopped emergency vehicle or a tow truck with its amber lights flashing
- improper passing
- improper driving when road is divided into lanes
- improper use of a high occupancy vehicle lane
- going the wrong way on a one-way road
- crossing a divided road where no proper crossing is provided
- crowding the driver’s seat
2 DEMERIT POINTS WILL BE ADDED IF YOU ARE CONVICTED OF:
- improper right turn
- improper left turn
- improper opening of a vehicle door
- prohibited turns
- towing people — on toboggans, bicycles, skis
- unnecessary slow driving
- backing on highway
- failing to lower headlamp beams
- failing to obey signs
- failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing
- failing to share the road
- failing to signal
- driver failing to wear a seat belt
- driver failing to ensure infant/ child passenger is properly secured in an appropriate child restraint system or booster seat
- driver failing to ensure that a passenger less than 23 kg is properly secured
- driver failing to ensure that a passenger under 16 years is wearing a seat belt
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT MY DEMERIT POINTS?
If an offence that carries demerit points has already gone to a conviction, then your legal options are limited. The means to addressing the conviction at that point would be to file an appeal or reopening with the court if appropriate. However, damage controlling demerit points after they have gone to a conviction means fighting an uphill battle at court just to try and get back to square one in being able to provide your defence. Even worse, if your reopening or appeal is denied…then you’re stuck with the demerit points and any consequences to your driver’s licence or insurance.
The time to protect your driving history from demerit points is before a conviction occurs. If you’ve been charged by the police, there are a lot of questions that you’ll need answered in order to make an informed decision on how to proceed. OTD Legal provides a no-cost, no obligation initial consultation to go through your case history and details with you. If you have been charged by the police, we would be happy to assist you via our toll-free number 1-844-647-6869 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.