Major or Minor Traffic Conviction. What’s the Difference?

A part of what goes into determining your auto insurance rate is your driving record, including any tickets you may have received.

There are a variety of different types of tickets, and some have more influence on your premium than others if you are convicted. For example, if you have what's commonly called a "minor" ticket on your record, you may not face a higher premium. But if you have a couple of minor tickets or a "major" one, your premium will likely spike.

The following are examples of what is typically considered minor and major traffic convictions. However, keep in mind that sometimes how a ticket is classified may vary by province or insurer.

Minor traffic convictions:

  • Speeding up to 45km/h over the posted speed limit (Note: The cut-off may vary.)
  • Following too closely
  • Failing to signal before a turn or lane change
  • Failing to obey a stop sign
  • Failing to wear a seat belt
  • Failing to produce your driver's licence or proof of insurance

Major traffic convictions:

  • Distracted driving
  • Failing to report an accident
  • Improper passing of a school bus
  • Speeding in a school zone
  • Speeding in a construction zone
  • Driving without insurance
  • Speeding more than 50km/h (Note: The cut-off may vary.)

In addition to minor and major tickets, there's another classification: serious or criminal convictions. These traffic violations take into account significant Highway Traffic Act or criminal convictions, and often come with the threat of a licence suspension or jail time:

  • Racing
  • Careless or dangerous driving
  • Impaired driving
  • Failure to remain at the scene of an accident
  • Failure to stop for a police officer
  • Failure or refusal to take a breath test
  • Criminal negligence while operating or using a motor vehicle
  • Manslaughter while operating a motor vehicle

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How Long Do Traffic Tickets Affect Your Auto Insurance?

In general, traffic tickets will affect your rate for three years. However, if your ticket (or tickets) results in a licence suspension, the suspension usually is factored into your premium for six years.

You can check the status of any traffic tickets you may have online in both Ontario and Alberta.

Parking tickets, by the way, do not affect your auto insurance rate. It's a very common and popular auto insurance myth that often leads drivers astray.

Tickets and Auto Insurance Quotes: Honesty Is the Best Policy

No matter what type of ticket you have, don't fudge the information you enter when getting auto insurance quotes. Insurance companies will most certainly check the driving records of all people applying for coverage. If they find that you misrepresented any information on your application, the insurance company can cancel your policy for "non-disclosure". This type of cancellation is a black mark on your insurance record, and it can mean you will be paying higher insurance rates for many years to come.

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