The Serious Consequences Of Driving With An Expired License
November 30, 2016 | By: Karen Vigmond
Put simply, it is illegal to drive with an expired license. If you are caught driving with an expired license, you will be charged with an offence in contravention of section 32 of the Highway Traffic Act. As a result, you can receive a $325 fine, have to pay an increase in insurance premiums and you will have a conviction on your driver’s license for three years.
However, much more seriously, driving with an expired license (or lending your vehicle to someone with an expired license) also constitutes a breach of a condition of your auto insurance policy. What does this mean? This means that in the event you are involved in an accident not only would you have to pay for repairing or replacing your vehicle (regardless of fault), but you would also be responsible for paying any judgment made against you as a result of a lawsuit arising from the accident. This also means that your insurance company would not be responsible for providing you with a lawyer or a defence on your behalf in the event that you are sued. Additionally, your insurer would not be responsible for paying you certain no-fault accident benefits. Clearly, driving with an expired license has very serious consequences.
Often times, people are caught driving with an expired license when they did not know their license had in fact expired (or they claim they did not know). What happens then? Unless you can prove that you exercised sufficient diligence and acted reasonably and prudently in the circumstances, your insurer will not have to cover you. This is called the due diligence defence and means that you must show that you took positive steps to ensure that you were licensed. You cannot sit back and simply rely on the Ontario government to notify you.
Generally speaking, this defence is not often successful. If you can establish that you regularly checked the mail and that the Ministry of Transportation actually failed to send you a renewal notice or pending expiration letter this may be sufficient. However, if you received the renewal notice and put it somewhere only to then forget about it (but with the intention of renewing it), this will be insufficient.
After a serious accident, you never want to find yourself in a situation where you have no insurance. So, take responsibility and keep note of when your license will need to be renewed. The process of renewing your license is quick and easy and can even be done online. This will ensure you avoid the consequences outlined above and will give you peace of mind that you will be covered in the event that you are ever involved in a motor vehicle accident.