Question about Ontario driving records
January 20, 2015 12:14 PM   Subscribe

I would like to buy a used car, drive it all summer (commuting to a short-term job), then sell it. I'm a newish driver, first car, first time getting auto insurance. Recently I got a major traffic ticket, for which I've already requested a trial. It's likely I'll be done with the car before the trial date arrives. How will this pending ticket affect my insurance? Also, I don't know if my infraction is potentially worth demerit points- how would I find that out?

For what it's worth, here's the incident:
I was designated driver in a friend's car (I was 100% sober), in an area where I haven't driven often. I mis-read the lights at a complex intersection on a deserted street late at night. I stopped at a red appropriately. There was a police car behind me. When the light turned green, I checked traffic and then slowly turned left through the empty intersection. Turns out I had gone on a green meant for a different lane. The officer said he did see me stop before proceeding at a safe speed, he said he could tell I didn't run the red on purpose, and he even admitted it's a confusing intersection (it really is- extra lights plus ambiguous signage labelling those lights). But he still gave me the ticket- "Red light, proceed before green", $300. He did not mention demerits verbally or on the ticket.

I spoke to a knowledgeable person who said this could cost me demerit points. They advised me to photograph the intersection, go to court, explain what happened, and the consequences would likely be waived or lessened in terms of both fine and possible points. I have already requested a trial; I'll find out the trial date in April or May. Trial will likely be in August or September. I was planning to buy the car in May and keep it til late September. ...which is to say, I might end up buying the car before the trial date is set, and selling it before the actual trial occurs.

Will a pending trial for this ticket show up on my driving record (which is otherwise nonexistent)? How badly will it affect my insurance? Also, does this sound like an incident over which I'm likely to lose demerit points?

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
posted by pseudostrabismus to Law & Government (4 answers total)
I'm in Manitoba, but I agree with your knowledgeable person. My wife had a similar experience (first ticket, confusing situation, police officer sympathetic but still gave her the ticket) and went to court. She pled "guilty with an explanation" - you're in the same boat, since you technically did go through on the red. She told her story and the ticket was essentially thrown out. She didn't get any demerits or fine, just a $40 administrative fee. FWIW, the justice said that my wife's story matched the officer's story exactly and that was one of the reasons she let her off. I would write down exactly what happened so you don't forget, and be totally honest at the trial. If you don't get any more tickets before then I suspect you'll be let mostly or completely off the hook.

And yes, if you don't fight it or if you get stuck with the ticket you'll get demerits. I don't think a pending trial would show up on your record, but hopefully someone else can answer that more specifically.
posted by pocams at 1:00 PM on January 20, 2015

I'm no expert, but insurance in Ontario is usually affected by convictions, not charges. If you've requested a trial and it hasn't happened yet, you haven't been convicted of anything. Whereas if you just mail in the set fine, that IS recorded as a conviction (and the ticket would usually say that).

Going through a red light seems to be classified as a "minor" conviction in Ontario for insurance purposes, which would tend to have little or no impact on rates if it's the only one you have. It might be different for a newly insured driver, though.
posted by FishBike at 5:47 PM on January 20, 2015

I'm in BC but I think the law is similar. Tickets are a notice of infraction, meaning that you have been observed (caught) apparently breaking the law. This notice is registered with the court, and you are expected to respond in a certain time limit. Either plead not guilty and proceed to trial or plead guilty and receive a sentence.

The current ticket will show up in the computer if the police or courts search for it - as in;

Say you get another ticket, the officer will run your drivers license and see that you have a pending ticket, so she/he may be less lenient this time (or they may take pity on you and let you off).

But as far as your driving record - nada - Yet. If you plead/or are found guilty, that judgment will be registered on your Drivers Abstract.

Insurance may not care about the points - some plans state that to get a good rate you have to have had no infractions in a certain period - points or not. A fine can be just as damaging to insurance in tat regard. You really have to check your insurance policy closely as it has to state how driving infractions affect your license.

As for Ontario demerit points check here to get an idea. I think you are good for 3 points for " failing to obey a stop sign, traffic control stop/slow sign, traffic light or railway crossing signal".
posted by Zedcaster at 7:02 PM on January 20, 2015

Update: I diagrammed the intersection and photographed it at the same time of night to show the traffic lights' unclear positioning. After the officer's account of what happened, the prosecutor said he would only lessen, but not dismiss, the fine. I politely explained what happened, using my diagram and photos to illustrate. My account of events matched the police officer's exactly, but included visual evidence of the unclear stoplight arrangement at that intersection, and I showed a Google Maps photo of a similar nearby intersection, which has different- and much more clear- signage. When he saw the photos, the prosecutor said he'd have made exactly the same left turn in my situation, and he completely withdrew the charge- no fine, no points. Amazing outcome- I was grinning ear-to-ear. Thank you for the advice!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:27 AM on June 25, 2015

« Older How do I make my own cold cereal?   |   So there's this person who likes to hang out in my... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.