Operate Motor Vehicle Without Insurance

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Operate Without InsuranceAll motor vehicles driven on Ontario roadways require that the vehicle be covered by a liability insurance policy.

The law regarding insuring motor vehicles is specified in the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act of Ontario.


Owner Responsible for Insurance

The owner of the vehicle is responsible that:

  • if their vehicle is being operated on the roadway, that
    • the vehicle is insured with liability insurance coverage,
      • whether or not they are actually driving the vehicle or not.

Uninsured Motor Vehicles

Where the vehicle is not insured,

  • the owner must ensure and take all reasonable precautions
    • to ensure that the vehicle is not being operated by other persons, and
  • take reasonable steps to make sure that the vehicle
    • cannot be operated on the roadway.

Where an uninsured vehicle is driven on the roadway, the owner can be charged with permitting a motor vehicle to be operated without insurance.

Associated charges: Permit operation of a motor vehicle without insurance, fail to surrender insurance card, produce false evidence of insurance, make false statement


Reverse Onus

Operate motor vehicle without insurance is considered a “Reverse Onus” offence.

Reverse onus means that usually the defendant doesn’t have to prove their innocence, the prosecution has to prove them guilty in the first instance.

In a reverse onus, the responsibility is upon the accused.

Subsequently, under the insurance act, the driver has to prove to the officer that they have valid insurance, not that the police have to prove that they didn’t.


Insurance Implications

Where a driver is convicted of an offence against the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, the conviction will dramatically affect any application for liability insurance.

The insurance companies perceive a conviction for no insurance as a person who has been deceptive and dishonest, even if there was a mistaken lapse in insurance coverage.


Fines

The fine for operate a motor vehicle without insurance is $5,000 for a first offence.  Where there is a subsequent conviction each time the fine doubles e.g.

  • 1st offence – $5000
  • 2nd offence – 10,000
  • 3rd offence – 20,000
  • 4th offence -40,000

What is the Victim Fine Surcharge?

  • The provincial government adds a victim fine surcharge (VFS) to every non-parking fine imposed under the Provincial Offences Act.
    • It is deposited into a special fund to help victims of crime.
  • The amount of the VFS is usually 20 per cent of the imposed fine.
    • For example, the $5,000 fine would result in a $1,250 surcharge.
      • $10,000 fine has a $2,500 surcharge
    • Fines over $1,000 carry a surcharge of 25 per cent.

Penalties

The fine is the only penalty for a conviction of this offence.

Where a police officer finds a vehicle being driven on the roadway without valid liability insurance the police officer could in theory seize the licence plate and remove the vehicle from operation.

This would be because for a vehicle to be operated on a roadway the vehicle must be:

  • licensed
  • safe to be on the roadway
  • covered with liability insurance

Without insurance the vehicle is not allowed to be operated on the roadway.

Police officers may seize licence plates where the licence plates are not authorized for use.


Demerit Points

There are no demerit points for operating a motor vehicle without insurance.

Nor are there any demerit points for any conviction under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act.


Suspensions

There is no licence suspension for any charge under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act.

Any driver maybe suspended where any fine goes into default.

Where the licence is suspended for an unpaid fine, the licence will be suspended until the payment is made to the court.


Legal Definition

Compulsory automobile insurance

2 (1) Subject to the regulations, no owner or lessee of a motor vehicle shall,

(a) operate the motor vehicle; or

(b) cause or permit the motor vehicle to be operated,

on a highway unless the motor vehicle is insured under a contract of automobile insurance.

Definition

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), where a permit for a motor vehicle has been issued under subsection 7 (7) of the Highway Traffic Act,

“contract of automobile insurance”, with respect to that motor vehicle, means a contract of automobile insurance made with an insurer.

Offence

(3) Every owner or lessee of a motor vehicle who,

(a) contravenes subsection (1) of this section or subsection 13 (11); or

(b) surrenders an insurance card for inspection to a police officer, when requested to do so, purporting to show that the motor vehicle is insured under a contract of automobile insurance when the motor vehicle is not so insured,

is guilty of an offence and is liable on a first conviction to a fine of not less than $5,000 and not more than $25,000 and on a subsequent conviction to a fine of not less than $10,000 and not more than $50,000 and, in addition, his or her driver’s licence may be suspended for a period of not more than one year.

Justice to secure possession of driver’s licence

(4) Where a justice makes a conviction under subsection (3) and the driver’s licence of the person convicted is suspended by the justice, the justice shall take the driver’s licence and forward it to the Registrar.

Police officer may secure possession

(5) Where a driver’s licence is suspended under this section and the person to whom the suspension applies refuses or fails to surrender his or her licence to the justice forthwith, any police officer may, and upon the direction of the Registrar shall, take possession of the licence and forward it to the Registrar.

Offence

(6) Every person who fails or refuses to surrender his or her driver’s licence when required by a police officer under subsection (5) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $200.

Impounding motor vehicle

(7) In the event of a conviction under subsection (3), the justice may order that the motor vehicle,

(a) that was operated in contravention of subsection (1);

(b) for which a false statement in respect of insurance was made in contravention of subsection 13 (11); or

(c) for which an insurance card was produced in contravention of clause (3) (b),

shall be seized, impounded and taken into the custody of the law for a period of not more than three months.

Cost of storage

(8) All costs and charges for the care and storage of the motor vehicle are a lien upon the motor vehicle that may be enforced in the manner provided by the Repair and Storage Liens Act.

Case Law

R. v. Zwicker, 1994 CanLII 1221 (ON CA)
1994-04-02 | 4 pages | cited by 14 documents
registered owner — motor vehicle without insurance — common law owner — number plates — operating a motor vehicle without insurance – what is owner
[…] Road transport — Provincial offences — Operating motor vehicle without insurance — Word “owner” in s. 2 of Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act including “common law owner” and not restricted to “registered owner” — Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.25 , s. 2 . […] The appellant was charged with operating a motor vehicle without insurance contrary to s. 2(1) (a) of the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act . […] 193 (C.A.) [affd 1978 CanLII 28 (SCC) , [1978] 2 S.C.R. 342, 82 D.L.R. (3d) 449, 3 C.C.L.T. 316, 19 N.R. 209 ] Statutes referred to Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.25 , s. 2(1) Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8 , s. 11(1) (a), (2) Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act, R.S.O. 1970, c. 281, s. 3(3) […]


R. v. Baritz, 2006 ONCJ 266 (CanLII)
2006-07-17 | 22 pages
minimum fine — fines — penalty — sentencing — interests of justice
[…] The Court has concluded that Mr. Baritz has not established that exceptional circumstances exist so that to impose less than the minimum fine under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act (CAIA ) for the charge of Operate Motor Vehicle Without Insurance would be either unduly oppressive or otherwise not in the interests of […] absence but through a commercial agent, M. Scinocco, pleaded guilty before this Court to amended count #1 on the Information, Fail to Turn Out to the Left To Avoid A Collision, contrary to s. 148(5) of the Highway Traffic Act and to count #4, Operate Motor Vehicle Without Insurance, contrary to s. 2(1) (a) of the CAIA . […] [52] Mr. Baritz, has had two opportunities to satisfy this Court, on a balance of probabilities, that exceptional circumstances exist in his case such that to impose the minimum penalty for Operate Motor Vehicle Without Insurance would be either unduly oppressive or otherwise not in the interests of justice. […]


R. v. Norat, 2009 ONCJ 106 (CanLII)
2009-03-06 | 16 pages | cited by 1 document
motor vehicle — driver s license — officer — hearsay rule — evidence
[…] [1] After an ex parte trial on July 4, 2008, the Appellant was convicted of the offence of Operate Motor Vehicle No Insurance, contrary to section 2(1) (a) of the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act . […] a) The verdict arrived at by the learned Justice of the Peace was unreasonable in that he failed to appreciate the essential elements of the offence of “owner operate motor vehicle without insurance”; and […]