Driving Without Insurance in Ontario: Is It Legal?

Are you driving without insurance in Ontario? If you are, there are things you must be aware of since car insurance is required by law.

Stay tuned and learn about the consequences and fines you can experience when driving without insurance.

Let’s get into it!

Driving Without Insurance in Ontario

By Canadian law, it’s mandatory to have car insurance. Therefore, driving without one is illegal.

But why do you need car insurance? What does it do? Namely, Car insurance ensures the driver and the passengers are protected when on the road.

However, its protection stretches further by protecting the vehicle and refers to the potential injuries of another person or car.

Furthermore, you should know that if you don’t have insurance for some reason, you’ll still be able to drive your car. Still, be prepared to face a series of consequences if you get pulled over by the police and fail to show proof of insurance.

Besides a fine for driving without insurance in Ontario, you could potentially lose your driver’s licence for up to a year. And that’s not all, because you’ll also be subjected to a few more penalties. That said, it’s worth noting that the fines for driving without insurance are pretty high.

Now, let’s go through the answers to some essential questions regarding driving without insurance.

Is Driving Without Insurance a Criminal Offence? 

Driving without insurance is not considered a criminal offence in Canada. However, it’s considered an offence under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act of Ontario (CAIA). So, if you get caught without insurance, you’ll need to pay fines which won’t affect your criminal record. That being said, you won’t face jail time.

Nevertheless, there are also charges for ‘dangerous driving’ under the Criminal Act of Canada. So, if your driving is considered one, the police might press charges against you based on its seriousness. Having said that, ‘dangerous driving’ consequences vary between 30 days and 14 years of jail time.

What Happens If You Get Caught Driving Without Insurance?

When the police stop you for a routine check, they will certainly follow through with the standard procedure. This means that you’ll have to show

  • proof of insurance,
  • your licence,
  • and your MTO certificate.

If you cannot provide these documents, they’ll have you car confiscated for 7 days, regardless of whether you’re a new or experienced driver.

On the other hand, if you don’t have proof of insurance, you’ll face a penalty for driving without insurance and pay expensive fines. With that in mind, these fines range between $5.000 and $50.000 – depending on how many times in succession the police stopped you.

Not to mention that if the police find that you’ve been involved in an accident, they might ask you to pay for the car repair and injuries. If so, expect that the car’s replacement costs; if there are any – it will be on you.

Can Driving Without Car Insurance Cost You Your Driver’s Licence and Demerit Points?

As previously mentioned, driving without insurance in Ontario may leave you without a driver’s licence for a minimum of thirty days, or you could stay without it for an entire year.

Luckily, even though you’ll pay a fine for driving without insurance, you won’t receive demerit points.

Note: Be careful with demerit points. They stay on your record for two years, and you risk losing your driving licence.

Driving Without Insurance in Ontario

What Are the Penalties for Driving Without Insurance?

Driving without insurance isn’t a criminal offence. Instead, it’s considered a ‘public safety’ offence. Regardless, you’ll be charged with a hefty fine — this could eventually impact your insurance premium.

Another thing to be aware of is that you could be convicted on two occasions:

  • failure to show proof of insurance upon a police request,
  • and operating a car/another motor vehicle without insurance.

By now, you’ve understood that failing to show car insurance to the police will cost you.

To make things clear, here’s a breakdown of the costs of the fines:

  • First-time convictions – expect a fee of $5.000 to $25.000;
  • Second-time convictions – get fines from as low as $10.000 to a maximum of $50.000.

Besides the initial fines we just mentioned, you could face further penalties such as

  • Suspension – you risk losing your driver’s licence for a year.
  • Impoundment – with no insurance policy your car could be impounded for three months.
  • Extra Fees – following the Provincial Offence Act, a 25% victim charge is added to your initial fine.

As a result, you’ll have to pay an additional $1.250 surcharge fee to your $5.000 fine. Or, that would be a $12.500 surcharge fee to your $50.000 fine.

Can You Drive Another Person’s Car Without Insurance? 

In a nutshell, driving your or anyone else’s car without insurance in Canada is illegal. Nevertheless, there are situations where you could easily end up driving someone else’s car, for instance, a sudden breakdown of your car.

Since we turn to someone we know to lend us their car, have you questioned yourself whether it is allowed to drive someone else’s car without having your own insurance? Briefly, yes, you can. But, there’s more to this answer.

Let’s have a look at cases that allow driving someone else’s car without insurance: 

  • Own a valid licence to drive in Canada;
  • Show explicit permission from the car’s owner to operate their car;
  • Be willing to stick to the rules of the mutual agreement between you and the car’s owner;
  • Stay away from illegal activities during the drive itself.

Basically, if you have a valid Canadian licence and you have the car owner’s permission, you’re free to drive.

But even so, the person lending you their car must also have an active insurance policy. Also, if borrowing your car becomes a habit, the driver has to include you on their insurance list as a secondary or occasional driver.

This is essential because insurers need insight into the borrower’s driving record and whether they’re considered safe or risky drivers.

Another way to drive someone else’s car is by driving a rental car. To do this, you don’t need to auto insurance, but you’ll still need at least some insurance to drive a rental.

For that purpose, you could purchase insurance from the rental company or use your credit card for limited coverage – the booking will grant you protection.

Conclusion

Though there are no criminal charges if caught driving with no insurance, you’ll still get a penalty for driving without insurance in Ontario. Moreover, you’ll face hefty fines and extra fees. Consequently, you risk losing your driver’s licence or getting your vehicle impounded.

Sitting behind the wheel puts you and other traffic participants at risk of auto collision. That said, accidents happen, even to the most responsible drivers. Therefore, a car insurance policy is always a good idea.

FAQ

Is it illegal to drive without insurance?

By law, operating a motor vehicle must come with an insurance policy. However, driving without one isn’t considered a criminal offence under the CAIA.Still, remember that driving a car that doesn’t have insurance coverage is illegal.

What will happen if you drive without insurance in Canada?

Drivers caught driving without insurance face several penalties like licence suspension, car impoundment, and high fines. But, there is no jail time for driving without insurance in Canada.

Fortunately, nothing will go on your criminal record, either. Still, this can affect your future insurance rates, thus, making it more difficult to obtain car insurance.

ABOUT AUTHOR

When Biljana first started off her career, she was focused on economics, which was also her area of professional study. However, in time, she started to familiarize herself with the concept of insurance, which instantly struck a chord, allowing her to constantly upgrade her knowledge and eventually become an insurance aficionado. When she's not writing, she loves to go on hikes and explore various natural surroundings.

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