Every driver with a license has a driving record that follows them from their first day behind the wheel. Yet, many are unaware of what this record contains and its impact, especially when it comes to car insurance premiums. Central to understanding this is the Ontario driver’s abstract, a document that chronicles your driving history and influences how insurers evaluate your rates. This article serves as a guide, detailing how to obtain your driving record, the types of records available, associated costs, and their significance.
What is a Driver’s Abstract?
A driver’s abstract is a kind of driving record that summarizes a person’s driving history. When people mention a driver’s abstract, they refer to the 3-year uncertified driver’s record. This abstract summarizes your driving history spanning the last three years. It includes vital information such as:
- Traffic violations
- Demerit points
- License suspensions
- Other driving-related incidents
There are several other kinds of driving records available through the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO). These encompass your driver’s license history, 3-year certified driver’s record, 5-year certified and uncertified driver’s record, extended driver’s record search, Complete driver’s record, driver’s license check, and driver confirmation letter.
Why is a Driver’s Abstract Important?
Driver’s abstract serves multiple purposes:
- Employment: Many employers, especially those in transportation or delivery services, require a clean driving record.
- Insurance Premiums: Insurance companies may use your driving history to determine your insurance rates.
- Legal Proceedings: In legal cases involving driving incidents, your driving record can be critical evidence.
- Personal Awareness: Reviewing your driving abstract can help you understand and improve your driving habits.
Driving Record vs. Driver Abstract
In Ontario, your driving record chronicles your history as a licensed driver, regardless of whether you hold a G1, G2, or G license. It encompasses details like tickets, license type, demerit points, and any accidents or convictions you’ve had.
The terms “driving record” and “driver’s abstract” are often used synonymously. However, the driver’s abstract is just one form of the various driving records available, with “driving record” being a broader term that covers all these different types.
Who Can Access Your Ontario Driving Record?
In Ontario, others besides yourself can access your driving record. As per Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, your three-year record is available to those who request it and pay a fee. While the public and organizations can request your driver information from the Driver Licence Database, your address remains confidential. Your driving record can be accessed by:
- Insurance Companies refer to your driving record to decide your insurance premiums.
- Police: For reviewing your driving history during traffic stops.
- Judicial Services: To obtain information for court cases involving you or your vehicle.
How to Obtain Your Driver’s Abstract in Ontario
Getting your driver’s abstract in Ontario is a straightforward process. There are several ways to do it, and each one requires you to provide personal identification and a small fee:
- Online through ServiceOntario: The easiest way is to request it online via the ServiceOntario website. Here are detailed steps on how to do it:
- Visit the ServiceOntario Website: Navigate to the driver’s abstract section.
- Provide Necessary Information: Enter your driver’s license number and other personal details.
- Payment: Pay the required fee using a credit or debit card.
- Receive Your Abstract: The abstract is usually sent to your email or available for download.
- In-Person: Visit your nearest ServiceOntario center with your ID and payment.
- By Mail: Send a written request with your details and a cheque to the Ministry of Transportation.
Understanding the Contents of Your Driver’s Abstract
Your driver’s abstract in Ontario will include:
- Personal Information: Name, address, and driver’s license number.
- License Status: Current status of your driver’s license.
- Conviction Information: Details of any driving convictions, including dates and nature of the offences.
- Accident Records: Information about any accidents you’ve been involved in.
- Demerit Points: Current demerit points on your license.
Significance of a Clean Driving Record in Ontario
Maintaining a clean driving record in Ontario is crucial as it influences insurance rates and job prospects. A clean record, free from tickets, infractions, or accidents, often leads to lower car insurance costs.
To check if your record is clean, request a copy of your driving record. A clean record typically means no convictions for minor or major traffic offences, no at-fault auto accidents, and no driving-related crimes such as impaired driving. Infractions generally remain on your record for three years, while at-fault accidents can last up to ten years. Over time, driving responsibly without incidents will naturally clear your record. Here are some tips for maintaining a clean driving record:
- Training: Consider a driver training course.
- Defensive Driving: Follow speed limits(e.g. near construction zones), maintain safe distances, and adhere to road rules.
- Limit Driving: Drive only when necessary and avoid driving in bad weather.
- Avoid Distractions: Keep your phone away and concentrate on driving for your and everyone else’s safety. In 2021, Transport Canada’s estimates indicate that approximately 19.7% of road fatalities, which accounts for around 348 victims, were attributed to fatal accidents linked to distracted driving.
- Never Drive Impaired: Annually, impaired driving leads to the death of about 1,500 Canadians and causes injuries to nearly 64,000 individuals. Opt for alternative transportation if you consume alcohol or drugs.
- Manage Your Frustration: Know how to manage the anger and frustration you might experience when driving.
The Bottom Line
A driver’s abstract is essential for Ontario drivers, reflecting their driving history and impacting various aspects of their lives. Obtaining it is a simple process, whether online, in-person, or by mail. Understanding its contents and significance can help drivers make informed decisions and maintain a good driving record.