As the owner or driver of a vehicle on Ontario's roads, you
have a number of rights and responsibilities, most of which are
governed by Ontario's Highway Traffic Act. These can be divided
into three broad categories: driving a vehicle, buying a vehicle,
and dealing with tickets.
Driving a Vehicle
Before you can drive any vehicle on Ontario's roads, you
need to have a valid driver's license. The license you require
depends on what vehicle you are driving:
Class G allows you to drive any car,
van or small truck. This is a basic license that all drivers must
have, with the exception of motorcyclists. Any additional licenses
can only be obtained after acquiring this license.
Class B, C, E and F allow you to
drive a bus, with classes B and E allowing you to drive a school
Class F allows you to drive an
ambulance in addition to a bus.
Classes A and D allow you to drive
large transport trucks and rigs.
Class M allows you to drive a
Before you are allowed on the road, your vehicle must also be
insured – failure to insure your vehicle can carry a fine
between $5,000-50,000. This insurance must include:
Third Party Liability Coverage of at
least $200,000. This provides coverage in case you kill or injure
somebody in a car accident, or damage somebody's property.
Statutory Accident Benefits Coverage.
This provides you with coverage if you are injured in an auto
Direct Compensation – Property
Damage. This provides compensation for damage to your property if
another person was at fault, but only when the accident occurs in
Uninsured Automobile Coverage. This
provides you with coverage if you are in an accident where the
other driver is not insured.
If you witness or are in an accident, you have an obligation to
remain on the scene and provide assistance if you can, both to
those involved in the accident and to the police. Failure to do so
after being in an accident is known as "hitting and
running," and is a serious offense, particularly if somebody
Buying a Vehicle
If you are buying a new vehicle, it is assumed to be
"fit" – safe and clean on the road. However, if you
are buying or transferring ownership of a used vehicle that is
older than the current year, you have an obligation to ensure that
it will pass both emissions and safety in order for it to be
The emissions test, or Drive Clean test, is a test to ensure
that the car is not emitting pollution levels above provincial
standards. This test must be performed before the sale or transfer
of any vehicle, and a current Drive Clean certificate must be
presented upon transfer of ownership, or the ownership will not be
transferred. It must also be performed every two years once a
vehicle is seven years old or older.
There are, however, some exceptions:
Emissions tests are not required for
light-use vehicles made before 1988, vehicles plated as
"historic" under the Highway Traffic Act, hybrids,
commercial farm vehicles, motorcycles or kit cars.
An emission test certificate is not
required if you are transferring the vehicle to immediate family,
including parents, spouses, and children.
The Safety Standards Certificate (SSC) is used to ensure that
any vehicle on the road is safe to drive. A used car without an SSC
is not considered "fit," and cannot have license plates
attached to it or be registered in your name.
Like the emissions test, there are some exceptions where an SSC
is not required:
When a car is being transferred from
one spouse to another.
When the vehicle in question is a
moped, trailer, off-road vehicle, or motorized snow vehicle.
Dealing with Tickets
It is likely that at some point during most drivers' lives,
they are going to receive a parking or speeding ticket of some
sort. These are part of a legal process in which you have a number
of rights and responsibilities.
It is important to note that a parking or speeding ticket by
itself is not a conviction. It is, instead, the equivalent of being
charged with an offense. Just paying the fine is the equivalent of
pleading guilty, and may cause additional penalties, such as
demerit points or an increase in your insurance fees.
You do, however, have the right to appear before a judge or
justice of the peace in the Provincial Offences Court and plead not
guilty. The officer who issued the ticket is required to appear to
give evidence in the case against you – if he or she fails to
do so, the ticket will usually be dismissed. Likewise, if there are
extenuating circumstances, you can plead guilty with an
explanation, and the traffic court may reduce or suspend the
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