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Major or minor traffic conviction — What’s the difference?

Feb. 23, 2024
2 mins
A young man with glasses drives down the street

This article has been updated from a previous version.

A significant part of what goes into determining your car insurance rate is your driving history, including any traffic convictions you may have on your record.

Of the many different types of tickets that you could be hit with, 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 see a premium hike at renewal. But if you have a couple of minor tickets or a "major" one, it’s possible your premium will spike. It depends on what those convictions are.

Examples of minor and major traffic convictions

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 45 km/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 seatbelt
  • 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 50 km/h (Note: The cut-off may vary.)

Read more: How to handle a traffic violation

Criminal convictions

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

  • Racing or stunt driving
  • 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 breathalyzer test
  • Criminal negligence while operating or using a motor vehicle
  • Manslaughter while operating a motor vehicleBottom of Form

How long do traffic tickets affect your car insurance?

In general, traffic convictions 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. Parking tickets, by the way, do not affect your insurance rate.

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

Tickets and car insurance: Honesty is the best policy

No matter what type of ticket you have, don't fudge the information you enter when getting car 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.

Related: What can void your car insurance?

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Liam Lahey

Liam Lahey is a versatile marketer with experience as a staff and freelance writer for many business and technology publications and newspapers. He previously worked as the editor and media spokesperson for RATESDOTCA, handling home, auto, and travel insurance topics.

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