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Insurance Related Offences In Ontario

Driving a vehicle provides freedom and the empowerment go where you want, when you want.  However, that freedom comes with multiple responsibilities and costs.  One of the costs to driving a vehicle in Ontario, is the mandatory requirement to obtain and carry proof of insurance for your vehicle.  Failing to do so, can run you afoul of the law and result in serious consequences.  Let’s take a look at vehicle insurance and the law in Ontario…

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS

In Ontario, automobile insurance is mandatory.  Before being able to register or renew your vehicle’s registration, you will be required to provide proof of the vehicle’s insurance.  This includes coverage of at least $200,000 in third party liability.  The financial repercussions of causing major property damage, or seriously injuring or killing someone without the protection of insurance could be devasting.  While it is not required that you also carry insurance to cover damage to your own vehicle, failing to do so could result being unable to repair or replace your vehicle in the event of a collision. 

The primary piece of relevant law for most drivers is the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act (CAIA).  The three most common types of insurance related charges that we see are:

  • Fail To Surrender Insurance Card
  • Operate Motor Vehicle — No Insurance
  • Providing False Proof of Insurance

Let’s take a look at these three types of offences and their related penalties…

FAIL TO SURRENDER INSURANCE CARD

Under CAIA s. 3(1), drivers are required to surrender their proof of insurance (valid insurance card) to the police when requested to do so:

“3 (1) An operator of a motor vehicle on a highway shall have in the motor vehicle at all times,

(a) an insurance card for the motor vehicle; or

(b) an insurance card evidencing that the operator is insured under a contract of automobile insurance,

and the operator shall surrender the insurance card for reasonable inspection upon the demand of a police officer.”

This offence is the most minor of the three insurance-related charges.  It carries no demerit points and a small $50 fine (a total-payable fine of $65.00 once the victim fine surcharge and $5.00 court cost are included).

OPERATE MOTOR VEHICLE — NO INSURANCE

CAIA section 2(1)(a) deals with the actual requirement for the vehicle to be insured:

“Compulsory automobile insurance

2 (1) Subject to the regulations, no owner or lessee of a motor vehicle shall,

(a) operate the motor vehicle; or

(b) cause or permit the motor vehicle to be operated,

on a highway unless the motor vehicle is insured under a contract of automobile insurance.”

The first section, CAIA s.2(1)(a), deals with the owner of the vehicle driving while it is not insured.  The second section, CAIA s.2(1)(b), is issued where the owner of the vehicle has permitted the vehicle to be driven by another person while the vehicle is not insured.

The penalties for either of these offences are enormous:

“is guilty of an offence and is liable on a first conviction to a fine of not less than $5,000 and not more than $25,000 and on a subsequent conviction to a fine of not less than $10,000 and not more than $50,000 and, in addition, his or her driver’s licence may be suspended for a period of not more than one year.”

It is important to note that the fines listed are only the court portion of the fine.  The total-payable fine owing to the court includes a 25% victim fine surcharge as follows::

  • First offence:  $6,250.00 to $31,250.00
  • Second offence:  $12,500.00 to $62,500.00

Additionally, the court may issue up to a one year suspension of your driver’s licence.

PROVIDING FALSE PROOF OF INSURANCE

CAIA s.2(3)(b) deals with providing false proof of insurance to the police. 

“(3) Every owner or lessee of a motor vehicle who, […]

(b) surrenders an insurance card for inspection to a police officer, when requested to do so, purporting to show that the motor vehicle is insured under a contract of automobile insurance when the motor vehicle is not so insured,”

Insurance can be expensive, especially if you are a younger driver or have a poor driving history.  It can be tempting to try and avoid the cost of insurance by either doctoring an old insurance card or purchasing a fake insurance card off the Internet.  Some drivers have even purchased valid insurance only to immediately cancel the policy once they have received their new insurance card.  However…  Providing that false proof of insurance to the police can land you in serious trouble with the law:

“is guilty of an offence and is liable on a first conviction to a fine of not less than $5,000 and not more than $25,000 and on a subsequent conviction to a fine of not less than $10,000 and not more than $50,000 and, in addition, his or her driver’s licence may be suspended for a period of not more than one year. “

Much like the earlier section of the CAIA dealing with driving an uninsured vehicle, you would face the following fines if convicted at court;

  • First offence:  $6,250.00 to $31,250.00
  • Second offence:  $12,500.00 to $62,500.00

EXCLUDED DRIVERS

Even if a vehicle is insured, it is possible to be charged as though the vehicle was not insured.  Sometimes a specific driver may be excluded from an insurance policy for reasons such as a poor driving record.  Section 1(3) of the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act states:

“Exception re: excluded driver

(3) Even if a motor vehicle is insured under a contract of automobile insurance, it shall be deemed to be an uninsured motor vehicle for the purposes of this Act while it is being operated by an excluded driver as defined in the Insurance Act with respect to that contract unless the excluded driver is a named insured under another contract of automobile insurance.  R.S.O. 1990, c. C.25, s. 1 (3).”

IF YOU HAVE BEEN CHARGED

Beyond the record of conviction to your driving history and court penalties, any of the above charges can impact your cost of insurance.  In a worst-case scenario, a conviction could put the cost of remaining insured outside of your reach.  Being charged for driving without proper insurance is very serious and you will need to make decisions that will impact your life for years to come.  Seeking out legal representation or at least the basic information that you will need to make informed decisions is important to do as soon as possible after you have been charged by the police.

OTD Legal can help you.  We provide a no cost, no obligation initial consultation to understand the fundamentals of your case and provide you with basic information about your offence and the court process.  We can also provide you with a flat-rate quote for legal services so that you know what to expect for your legal costs right up front.  Our friendly staff can be reached via the toll-free phone number 1-844-647-6869 or by email at info@otdlegal.ca.

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