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Ontario ‘operate Motor Vehicle – No Insurance’ Question

Question: 

I had no insurance on this particular vehicle but had on another one that I forgot to tell the cop about. Does that mean I was still covered for Liability on the one with no insurance?  Thanks

Response: 

Generally, vehicles are insured, not people.  Having insurance on one vehicle does not generally provide insurance on another vehicle unless it has been specifically listed in the insurance policy.  The details of your insurance coverage would best be addressed by your insurance broker.

When an Ontario driver is stopped and charged by the police over a concern about insurance coverage, generally one of two offences will be issued.  Ideally, the driver receives a minor ticket for “Fail To Surrender Insurance” under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act (CAIA) section 3(1):

“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.  R.S.O. 1990, c. C.25, s. 3 (1).”

This offence carries no demerit points and a small fine. 

However, a much more serious offence of “Operate Motor Vehicle – No Insurance” can be issued under CAIA s.2(1)(a)

“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.  1994, c. 11, s. 383; 1996, c. 21, s. 50 (3).”

While this offence also carries no demerit point penalty, it carries very serious court penalties should you be convicted:

“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.  R.S.O. 1990, c. C.25, s. 2 (3); 1996, c. 21, s. 50 (4); 2002, c. 22, s. 33.”

It is important to note that these fines are the portion of the fine issued by the court.  An additional 25% victim fine surcharge is applied to calculate the total-payable fine:

  • Total-payable fine (first offence):  $6,250.00 – $31,250.00
  • Total-payable fine (subsequent offence):  $12,500.00 – $62,500.00

If a defence cannot be found to have this much more serious offence withdrawn or dismissed, there is still hope.  Depending upon the facts of your case and the Prosecutor involved, it may be possible to negotiate the serious “Operate Motor Vehicle – No Insurance” offence down to the “Fail To Surrender Insurance Card” lesser offence.  If an agreement to a lesser offence cannot be reached, then submissions can be made to the Court in seeking to have the penalties reduced.  Depending upon the financial situation of the Defendant, it may even be possible to have the fine reduced significantly below the minimum fine.

The two other penalties beyond a court ordered fine include a potential driver’s licence suspension for not more than a year, and an increased cost in obtaining insurance.

If you have been stopped and charged by the police, it is important to know what penalties your are facing and what your options are.  OTD Legal offers a no-cost, no obligation initial consultation and our friendly staff would be happy to assist you.  Our office can be reached by email at info@otdlegal.ca or via our toll-free number 1-844-647-6869.

Posted under Traffic Ticket Defence

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