Penalties for Driving Without a License in Ontario

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Article Contents
Picture of By <span>Aren Mirzaian</span>
By Aren Mirzaian

Updated on July 18, 2023

Visit author page
Picture of By <span>Aren Mirzaian</span>
By Aren Mirzaian

Updated July 18, 2023

Visit author page

5 minute read

Article Contents
A pile of coins and a pulled over car

If you drive in Ontario, you probably already realize that the province has very strict laws and heavy fines for not following traffic laws.

One of the penalties that can seriously affect your driving record is a ticket for driving without a license. It may seem obvious that a person should not drive without a license, however, in a country that receives thousands of new people every year, there may be some who don’t know the rules of the road and some who simply, by their own ignorance choose to do it anyway.

In this article, we summarize the regulations that exist around driving without a driver’s license in Ontario and the consequences that it can have.

Rules About Driving Without A License in Ontario 

The highway traffic act of Ontario can be considered the bible of all traffic laws within the province, here are some of the current rules and regulations around driving without a license:

1. You must not drive without a driver’s license.

The first general rule is that no driver should drive without a driver’s license.

“32 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway unless the motor vehicle is within a class of motor vehicles in respect of which the person holds a driver’s licence issued to him or her under this Act.

32 (2) No person shall drive a streetcar on a highway unless he or she holds a driver’s licence.”

2. You should always carry your license with you.

The law also indicates that every driver must carry a physical license while driving since the police can stop you at any time and ask you to show them this document.

“33 (1) Every driver of a motor vehicle or streetcar shall carry his or her licence with him or her at all times while he or she is in charge of a motor vehicle or streetcar and shall surrender the licence for reasonable inspection upon the demand of a police officer or officer appointed for carrying out the provisions of this Act.”

3. You must not let anyone drive your vehicle without a license.

Are you going to a party or meeting but you want someone else to drive your car? We recommend that you make sure that this person has their own driver’s license, the law indicates the following:

“32 (11) No person who is the owner or is in possession or control of a motor vehicle or combination of vehicles shall permit any person to drive the motor vehicle or combination of vehicles on a highway unless that person holds a driver’s licence containing any endorsements that are required to drive that motor vehicle or combination of vehicles under the circumstances in which the person will be driving.”

4. Don’t let a novice driver drive.

Are you teaching a son, nephew or someone else to drive? Be careful, because they could be stopped too.

“32 (11.1) No person who is the owner or is in possession or control of a motor vehicle or combination of vehicles shall permit a novice driver, as defined, to drive the motor vehicle or combination of vehicles on a highway while contravening a condition or restriction imposed upon the novice driver by this Act or the regulations.”

Source: Highway Traffic Act of Ontario

rules about driving without license

Who is Exempt From License Laws in Ontario?

Like every rule, there are exceptions but these are very specific or for a very short amount of time. Here are the reasons why you could not be ticketed if you are not licensed while driving.

  1. If you are a resident of some other country or province and hold an international driver’s permit.
  2. If you are older than 16 years, a resident of another province of Canada, complying with your own province’s licence rules and regulations.
  3. If you are a citizen of another country, who has not resided in Ontario for over three months of any year and has complied with the driving rule of your specific country.
  4. If you have moved to Ontario less than sixty days ago. But you must hold a subsisting driver’s licence of the province where you relocated from to enjoy this exemption.
when you are exempted from license laws in Ontario

What Happens If I am Caught Driving Without A License In Ontario?

You may have various reasons or excuses for the police officer if you are pulled over without a driver’s license but at the end of the day you will most likely have to explain yourself and hope that the police are lenient. 

1. You forgot your license at home and do not have it with you but you do have a valid driver’s license.

As drivers must carry their licence while driving and you are caught without yours, you may be subject to a fine. The ticket amount will depend on the province in which you were caught. In Ontario, the minimum fine is $85. If you choose to fight the ticket in court, you will likely lose, and your fine may be increased up to $500.

2. Your driver’s license has been suspended.

If you are caught driving with a suspended licence in Ontario, you may be subject to several penalties. It includes a fine between $1,000 and $5,000 for the first offence. However, for every subsequent offence, you will be fined between $2,000 and $5,000. You could also face imprisonment for up to six months or both this time.

3. Your driver’s license has expired.

This could result in you driving with an expired licence without even knowing it, you will be fined if this happens and the fine will be in the range of $200 to $300. 

An expired license means that your driving privileges are no longer valid. If you are caught driving with an expired license, you will be treated as a new driver which could end up leading to higher insurance rates and penalties.

If your licence has expired for too long, you will have to retake the written and road tests. The length of time after which you will have to retake the tests depends on the province or territory where you live.

4. You’ve never had a driver’s license.

Without a license, driving in Ontario is a serious offence, and if it is determined that you never even applied to get one, you are looking at a fine of about $265. In addition to that, you might also have to pay an additional $5 court cost. Although no demerit points will be added to your driving record, still this conviction would become a part of your record. Due to this, you can expect you car insurance rates to go up.

So if you never applied to get your license and got caught driving, the best thing to do would be to pay the fine, get your license, and avoid further penalties.

If My License has Expired, How Can I Renew?

Ontario requires its drivers to renew their driver’s licenses every 5 years. Generally, you will be notified by mail or email two to three months before the expiration date. If you think you are forgetful, it is best to make sure you place several reminders, ask a family member to remind you of that date or you can also sign up for the 30 or 60-day reminder feature via phone call, text and email that is available on the same renewal license website. Remember that you have up to one year after your expiration date to renew online.

Can I Buy A Car In Ontario Without A Driver’s License?

You can buy a car without a driver’s license. Usually, car dealers will ask you for a valid, government-issued photo ID and the finances necessary to acquire the vehicle. However, without a valid driver’s license, you will not be able to drive a car legally in Ontario.

If you buy a brand new vehicle that has never been insured without a license, you can either transport it home via a tow truck or purchase insurance and then get and then get a family member or friend with a driver’s license to drive it home. 

What is the Effect of Driving Without a Licence on Car Insurance Rates?

This penalty can increase your car insurance rates, it’s hard to predict but the increase tends to be anywhere between 20% and 25%. The main reason for this is that driving without a license is considered a crime and insurance companies will be aware of this when giving you a rate. This penalty can remain on your record for up to three years, which can cause you a problem in other aspects. It is also considered very dangerous since it is considered that you put the lives of other people at risk by not being authorized to drive.

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