Across Canada, you must have active car insurance if you want to operate a vehicle. The minimum requirement laid out by each province and territory is to have third-party liability insurance coverage.
Driving without insurance coverage is not a true criminal offence in Canada. Still, if the situation is severe, such as a criminal offence like reckless driving, the police can charge you under the Criminal Code. If you are caught driving without insurance, you face various penalties, including jail time, significant fines, vehicle impoundment, and licence suspension.
Why purchase a car insurance policy? It prevents you from experiencing a financial setback when you’re involved in a car accident. Medical bills, car and property damage, legal fees, it all adds up. And repeat offenders run the risk of a conviction and the stigma of having a criminal record.
Sicotte & Sandu are your legal experts to turn to when you have questions and concerns about driving without insurance.
What Happens if You Get Caught Driving without Insurance Coverage in Canada?
By law, drivers are required to provide a certificate of insurance to a police officer. Therefore, it’s essential to keep a copy of this document in your vehicle at all times because if you don’t have it, you will receive penalties despite having auto insurance.
While you won’t receive penalty points on your driver’s licence, here are the penalties you may face:
- A fine of $81 for failure to provide valid insurance documents when asked
- A fine of $109 for failure to display a validation decal on the licence plate.
Motor Vehicle Act
Section 24 of the Motor Vehicle Act outlines the penalties for driving without car insurance:
- If a person is not insured under a valid driver’s certificate, they could be on the hook to pay a $250 fine and/or serve a three-month sentence.
- If the person does not have a valid motor vehicle liability policy, they could be legally obliged to pay a fine between $300-$2,000 and/or serve jail time from seven days up to six months.
Keep in mind that once the court determines you’re guilty, you must pay the fine. The court can also issue a driver’s licence suspension for a certain period. It’s also up to the court to decide if you should serve jail time, which usually only occurs for repeat offenders.
If you have a good driving record, your lawyer will use that to reduce your penalties. A first offence usually carries lighter penalties. For more information on fines, points, and more, consult the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).
How to Fight the Charges if You Have Car Insurance
If you face a criminal charge of driving without insurance and were unable to produce the documents when asked by an officer—but you are insured—you can have the charge dropped.
You can take your insurance documents and the validation decal to the Provincial Court registry in your area. Here, you can plead “not guilty” to the driving without insurance charge since you have the mandatory coverage.
Consequently, the charge should be withdrawn. However, it’s most likely that you were also charged with failure to provide the documents and/or your decal when asked. For these charges, it is your decision to plead “guilty” and pay the fines, although you have the option of fighting them as well.
Should you decide to fight the charges, we recommend that you speak with our law firm.
Prevent a Motor Vehicle Insurance Policy from Lapsing
Having insurance means the insurance company will provide you with accident benefits whether or not the other driver was at fault. These benefits will help cover medical expenses and damages, so you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket. You also don’t risk losing your driver’s licence for committing this type of offence.
But sometimes, drivers have a lapsed auto insurance policy, which causes insurance companies to be suspicious. While the reason for the policy’s lapse can be innocent, such as the sale of the car, the insurance company may think you were driving without insurance and, therefore, double your premiums because they categorize you as a high-risk driver.
Speak with your insurance company to learn about alternatives to a lapse, such as choosing a short-term policy.
If you’ve been charged for driving without insurance, hire the best driving defence lawyer Surrey has to offer.
Caught Driving without Insurance? Contact Us!
If you don’t have auto insurance coverage and are caught driving in British Columbia, we’ll be there to help. We will assess your case and see what we can do about your having to pay fines or serve jail time.
Get in touch with us today!