c. The insurance. The cost of your traffic ticket is not only the fine, it affects your driving record and your insurance. A conviction will increase your insurance. If you are involved in a minor rear end collision and charged with careless driving, your annual insurance can go from $2,000 to somewhere around $5,000 to $7,000

A lot of people go to court trying to plead guilty to a lesser offense to avoid getting any demerit points. [1] For example, they get their speeding charge reduced so that it is speeding by less than 15km/hr over the limit (no demerit points). But your insurance is affected by any conviction, not just demerit points. If you are convicted of speeding by 1km/hr over the limit, your insurance will count that as a minor conviction and your rate will go up. [2]

Insurance companies are getting smart about that. Now, before they renew your policy they will send you a questionnaire in the mail asking you: how many kilometres do you drive a year, do you drive to work, have you ever been convicted of a traffic offence in the last five years? If you lie about your 1km speeding ticket to save money, that's insurance fraud. They can deny you benefits if you are ever in an accident.

The financial penalties are severe if you plead guilty. But it doesn't stop there…

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1. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t lose demerit points, you gain them. When you gain 6 demerit points you are sent a warning letter. At 9 points you meet with the Ministry of Transportation and give reasons why your license shouldn’t be suspended. At 15 points, it's an automatic 30 day suspension. New drivers have a lower threshold: 2 points, 6 points and 9 points respectively.

2. Many insurance companies don’t even count demerit points but instead count convictions. For example if you have three minor traffic violations but no demerit points your insurance rate will go up. Having two convictions of four demerit points each can be much better than having three convictions with no demerit points.