I received a red-light-camera ticket by email from a rental car agency in British Columbia. I was charged the fine on my credit card. I’ve had a clean driving record for more than 20 years. Now I’m worried that I will get [demerit] points on my driver’s licence in Ontario. Could this affect my car insurance here? – Alice
Smile. Red-light-camera and photo-radar tickets don’t appear on your driving record anywhere in Canada. That means they won’t increase your insurance premiums.
Photo tickets can prove that it’s your car and licence plate – or, in this case, the rental company’s car and licence plate – but they can’t prove who was driving, the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia (ICBC) said in an email.
That’s not the case if you were pulled over by an officer. In that case, they would take your driver’s licence number and issue the ticket directly to you.
For running a red light, that officer-issued ticket would come with a $167 fine and two demerit points. But with a photo enforcement ticket, there are no demerits – just the $167 fine.
(Demerit points are added to your licence if you’re convicted of breaking certain traffic laws. Failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing might get you two demerit points. Failing to stay at the scene of an accident might get you seven. They stay on your record for two years, and if you collect enough of them, you could lose your licence.)
So, if you’re the registered owner of a car but your friend was driving it, you’ll get sent the ticket in the mail and you’ll have to pay the fine – but your driving record stays clean. In this case, the rental car company pays and then collects from you and there is no increase to your insurance.
In provinces with photo radar, the same rules apply – the ticket stays off your record. B.C. doesn’t have photo radar on stretches not near intersections. But, it does have intersection cameras that can catch you if you speed or run a light. Ontario has photo-radar cameras but they’re only allowed in school zones and community safety zones.
B.C. issued nearly 75,000 red-light-camera tickets last year – which brought in nearly $10-million in revenue, according to an annual report on their use. It issued more than 42,000 intersection-camera speeding tickets that brought in nearly $7.5-million.
What happens in British Columbia …
In most provinces, if you’re an out-of-province driver and an officer gives you a ticket, it could appear on your driving record in your home province – and affect your insurance rates.
But that’s not the case in B.C. It doesn’t share demerit points and driving records with any other jurisdiction.
Most provinces and territories signed the Canadian Driver Licence Compact (CDLC), a 1990 agreement to share demerit counts and driving records. Quebec, B.C. and Nunavut did not.
Generally, certain tickets, including speeding tickets, that you get in a CDLC province will show up on your record in every other CDLC province.
So, if you get a speeding ticket on your Ontario licence in Alberta, for example, it will show up on your Ontario record.
Quebec has its own information-sharing agreements with Ontario, Maine and New York.
So, if you have a Quebec licence and head out of province, only Ontario, Maine and New York tickets will show up on your driving record. Likewise, any demerits that came with those tickets would get added to your Quebec licence.
The sharing rules apply only to provincial traffic tickets. Criminal Code convictions, including impaired driving, show up on your record everywhere in Canada.
Will demerit points affect insurance?
When it comes to insurance in most provinces, it’s your driving record that matters – not the number of demerit points you have.
In provinces without government-owned insurance, insurance companies don’t look at demerit points when they set your rates. Instead, they look at tickets you’ve collected in the past three years.
Have a driving question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and put ‘Driving Concerns’ in your subject line. Emails without the correct subject line may not be answered. Canada’s a big place, so let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province.