You get demerit points when you commit select traffic violations.
If you accumulate too many you’ll be subject to multiple penalties, this system exists to discourage unsafe driving. For example in Alberta a licence suspension is one of the most common punishments for drivers with too many demerit points.
How do demerit points work in Alberta, and how many points can you get on your licence before getting suspended? Read on to learn all about them in our full guide.
What Is a Demerit Point?
Demerit points are marks placed on your driving record every time you’re convicted of a driving offence. As you accumulate demerit points, you’ll receive heavier consequences.
Alberta uses demerit points to track driving offences. If you pass the point threshold, your licence may be suspended. The point threshold differs with your licence type – learner licence holders have a lower point threshold than fully licenced drivers.
How Demerit Points Work
In Alberta, you get a certain number of driving demerit points every time you’re convicted of a traffic offence. More severe offences usually carry a higher point penalty. A common example would be speeding in the province, where you get:
- 2 demerit points for speeding when you go 15 km/h above the speed limit
- 6 demerit points if you exceed the speed limit by 51 km/h.
Once you pass a certain threshold, the authorities will take action. These actions range from cautionary letters to licence suspension. But not all violations carry demerit point penalties. Some violations, like driving without insurance, get you fined instead of demerit point penalties.
Let’s go over some of the most common questions about Alberta’s demerit point system.
How Many Demerit Points Do You Start With on Your Licence?
All drivers in Alberta start with zero points on their licence. As you commit violations, the point total will rise until the maximum threshold. Once the point threshold is reached, your licence will be suspended.
Demerit points don’t reset to zero after suspension. Once your suspension is over, your licence will be reactivated with a certain number of demerit points.
How Many Demerit Points Before You Lose Your Licence?
How many demerit points you can accumulate before you lose your licence by suspension differs depending on your licence type. Here’s a breakdown of the maximum demerit points and suspension duration for each licence type:
Maximum Demerit Points for Class 5 Licence Holders
Fully licenced drivers with a Class 5 licence can get up to 15 points before their licence is suspended, which also applies to licence classes 1 through 6. The driver will receive a cautionary letter in the mail at 8 points.
Your suspension period also gets longer with every subsequent suspension. Here’s a summary of your first three suspension periods:
- First suspension: Once you accumulate 15 demerit points within two years, your licence is suspended for one month.
- Second suspension: If you get suspended within a year of your first suspension, your licence is suspended for another month.
- Third suspension: Your third suspension within two years will last six months. This also applies to any subsequent suspensions.
After each suspension, your licence will be reinstated with 7 demerit points.
Maximum Demerit Points for Class 7 Licence Holders
Class 7 licence holders are learner drivers, so they have a lower demerit point threshold and longer suspension periods. You’ll get a cautionary letter at 4 demerit points and a suspension at 8 points.
Here’s a summary of a Class 7 licence holder’s suspension periods:
- First suspension: You’ll lose your licence for one month at 8 demerit points.
- Second suspension: A second suspension in one year extends your suspension period to three months.
- Third suspension: Getting suspended three times within one year means losing your licence for six months.
You’ll get your licence reinstated with 3 demerit points after each suspension.
How Long Do Demerit Points Last?
Demerit points last two years from your date of conviction. You’re considered convicted when you pay a fine or are found guilty in court. Double-check your driving record after two years to ensure your demerit points are reset.
Are Demerit Points Written on Your Ticket?
Demerit points aren’t written on your ticket because they’re issued on conviction. That means your demerit points will be issued after you pay a fine or are found guilty in court.
Can You Reduce Demerit Points?
You can reduce demerit points in Alberta by taking an approved driver improvement course. This removes a maximum of 3 demerit points every two years.
How to Check Your Demerit Points in Alberta
You can check how many demerit points you have by requesting a driver’s abstract. A driver’s abstract contains essential information about your driving record, which includes:
- Basic personal information
- Licence status
- Demerit points
- Past suspensions
- Traffic convictions
- Conditions for licence reinstatement, if applicable
You can request abstracts for the past three, five, or 10 years. Insurers usually look at your abstract to determine your accident risk when setting your Alberta car insurance rates.
Your driver’s abstract is available at the nearest Alberta Registry Private Service Center. You can also get it online through the Government of Alberta’s website. Obtaining a copy costs about $20.
Do Demerit Points Transfer to Other Provinces?
Demerit points transfer to other provinces through the Canadian Driver Licence Compact. So, if you get demerit points in Alberta, they’ll still be there when you move to Ontario.
Read our guide on out-of-province speeding tickets to learn how to deal with traffic violations while away from home.
How Demerit Points Affect Insurance
Contrary to popular belief, demerit points don’t directly affect your insurance rates. What does affect them is your traffic violation conviction.
Being convicted of multiple traffic violations shows that you’re a dangerous driver. When insurers think you’re a dangerous driver, your premiums will increase.
But that doesn’t mean demerit points don’t matter to your insurance premiums. Accumulating demerit points lead to suspensions, which raises your insurance premiums. Some insurers may even turn you down if you have too many recorded suspensions.
Traffic violation convictions affect insurance premiums differently depending on how severe they are. If we break it down, you have three main categories:
- Minor violations, like speeding and not wearing seatbelts
- Major violations, like driving without insurance and escaping an accident
- Criminal violations, like street racing
Driving offences stay on your record for three years from your conviction date. But your rates may stay higher for longer – some companies even examine your driving record as far as 10 years back.
Looking for the cheapest car insurance in Alberta? MyChoice has you covered. Check out our guide to getting the cheapest car insurance in the province.
Offences That Come With Demerit Points
Different types of offences have varying demerit point penalties. Here’s an Alberta demerit points list to help you avoid committing these offences.
The points you get for speeding depend on how much you exceed the speed limit. Let’s break down the tiers of speeding offences in Alberta:
- 6 points: Exceeding the speed limit by 51 km/h and above
- 4 points: Exceeding the speed limit by 31 to 50 km/h
- 3 points: Exceeding the speed limit by 16 to 30 km/h
- 2 points: Exceeding the speed limit by 15 km/h and under
Violations for GDL Drivers
New Alberta drivers participate in the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program regardless of age. In most cases, a GDL driver holds a Class 7 or a Class 5-GDL probationary licence.
There are extra violations a GDL driver must watch out for, which are:
- Driving beyond the curfew hours of 12 a.m. to 5 a.m.
- Taking more passengers than your car has seat belts
- Driving with a non-qualified driving supervisor
Each of these offences carries a 2-point demerit penalty. The curfew rule is especially important because new drivers often don’t have the experience to drive safely at night. Fortunately, we have tips for safe night driving you can follow.
There’s an entire laundry list of offences that’ll land you demerit points in Alberta. Here are several example offences alongside their point penalties:
- Escaping the scene of a collision or accident
- Driving carelessly
- Not stopping for a school bus
- Racing vehicles with a wager or bet
- Not stopping at an uncontrolled railway crossing
- Not stopping at railway crossings while carrying explosives or flammable material
- Not stopping and providing information to a police officer
- Not yielding to pedestrians at a crosswalk
- Following another car too closely
- Driving the wrong way on a highway
- Failing to report an accident
- Running red lights
- Impeding passing cars
- Disobeying traffic control devices
- Backing into intersections unsafely
- Taking improper turns
Your driver’s licence may be suspended if you accumulate too many demerit points through traffic violations. These points don’t directly affect your insurance rates, but traffic violation convictions do. That’s why being a safe driver and avoiding demerits points is essential to keeping car insurance rates low.