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AJ Murray Legal Services P.C. Blog

  • Writer's pictureJoey Clavette

Fines, Insurance, and Demerit Points — What Will They Really Cost You?

One of the primary concerns clients have when they call about a ticket is how they can reduce the amount they will have to pay overall. This is a smart concern. It is tempting to simply want to reduce the fine you must pay but that is the wrong approach.


Illustration showing a scale with money on one side and car insurance on the other, symbolizing the financial impact of fines, insurance, and demerit points

Another major concern for some of the people who contact our office is often demerit points, and in most cases, this is not something to be concerned about at all. Look at this case from a forum as an example:

There was a man named David who once shared that he beat a “using hand-held device” charge by ‘pleading down’ to a “driving in contravention of conditions” charge with the prosecutor. His fine was $490, and the charge would get him 3 demerit points. With his plea, he paid a fine of $300 with no demerit points. He was happy with that.


What he did not realize was that his initial charge may be viewed as minor by certain insurance companies, but the charge he plead guilty to would possibly be considered major.


In terms of insurance, this means that David likely paid an additional $550 - $650 over the next three years.


Where did David go wrong?


Insurance


One important thing to consider is that some insurance companies typically group convictions into three categories: minor, major and serious. Below is a graph adopted from one of such insurance companies. This may help to give you a general idea of the costs you may likely incur for different convictions:





It is quite possible that David faced an increase in his insurance of possibly a 15% increase over the next three years.

If you are facing a charge that is considered serious, you should seriously consider legal representation, because your insurance increase could cost you thousands.


Fines


As you can see, focusing on the dollar value of your fine and not other factors such as the implication on your insurance, may truly be short-sighted. The most that you may be able to reduce your fine by is likely only upwards of a couple of hundred dollars if you get an exceptionally good plea deal. If you are charged with a serious offense, your savings on the fine are negligible compared to the thousands your insurance could cost you.


Demerit points


Very often people have the misconception that demerit points will always and most definitely affect their insurance. People assume their insurance company will simply see their demerit points, irrespective of the offense, and raise their rates.


However, in Ontario, insurance companies often report that they do not look at your demerit points, they look at your driver’s abstract which shows your past three years of convictions.

Demerit points often affect your insurance when you accumulate 15 and your license was suspended. By the time you would have accumulated that many demerit points, the chances are that your insurance would have already become unaffordable. Demerit points stay on your license for two years starting from the day of conviction.

Under which category is my charge?


With the three types of convictions in mind, it may be ideal to simply plea down to lighter convictions. If you are unsure of what these are depending on your specific circumstances, please feel free to give me a call. I will help you determine your correct category and what exactly a lighter conviction would be for you.




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