The Points System and ICBC

Script 187 gives general information only, not legal advice. If you have a legal problem or need legal advice, you should speak to a lawyer. For the name of a lawyer to consult, call Lawyer Referral at 604.687.3221 in the lower mainland or 1.800.663.1919 elsewhere in British Columbia.

This script explains driver penalty points and how they relate to the new driver risk premiums charged by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (called ICBC).

What are driver penalty points?
When you receive a traffic or “violation” ticket for speeding or some other driving offence under the BC Motor Vehicle Act, you normally get points on your driver’s record. You also get points for certain Criminal Code offences like impaired driving, criminal negligence, and failure to remain at the scene of an accident. Driver penalty points are like black marks on your driving record.

When are points added to your record?
Points are added to your record if you plead guilty to a driving offence or when a court convicts you of the offence. When you pay a traffic ticket, you’re admitting that you are guilty, so if you don’t agree with a ticket, you must fight (or dispute) it. You have 30 days from the date of the ticket to dispute it. If you don’t do so within 30 days, the offence and points are automatically added to your driving record. Refer to script 194 on “Traffic Tickets” for more information on how to fight a traffic ticket.

How many points do you get?
It depends on what the ticket is for. Most traffic tickets give you 2 or 3 points. For example, all speeding tickets get 3 points.

What are driver penalty point premiums?
Each year, ICBC looks at your record of driver penalty points and may bill you a driver penalty point (or DPP) premium. The bill is sent four weeks before your birthday.The DPP premium depends on the total number of points you get in a 12-month period, called the “assessment period”. ICBC reviews your driver’s record for this period, which starts about 17 months before your birthday and ends a year later, five months before your birthday. For example, if you have four points, the annual DPP premium is $175. It’s $230 for five points, $300 for six points, and so on. If you have 50 points or more, you get the maximum DPP premium of $24,000.

How are you billed for driver penalty point premiums?
ICBC bills you for a DPP premium only if you’ve had four or more penalty points added to your driving record in the assessment period. So if you only get an occasional minor traffic ticket, you won’t be charged any additional premium. Also, you don’t get points for parking tickets and other minor violations of city by-laws.

ICBC uses the points just once to calculate the premium and bill you. Once the points are added to your record, they aren’t used again for billing purposes, but ICBC keeps a record of each motor vehicle violation and point.

What are driver risk premiums?
Driver risk premiums are being phased in to replace the driver penalty point premiums. Phase I of the program was introduced in 2009. Under this new program, ICBC reviews your driving record for offences for the previous three years. . You will have to pay a driver risk premium if, during the previous three years, you have:

  • One or more driving-related Criminal Code convictions (e.g., impaired driving)
  • One or more Motor Vehicle Act convictions worth 10 points or more (e.g., driving while suspended)
  • One or more excessive speeding convictions
  • Two or more roadside suspensions

Note that the driver risk premium only counts offences that occurred on or after January 1, 2008.

The driver risk premium (like the DPP premium) is in addition to the usual ICBC insurance premium that you pay for any vehicle you own. And it’s different from the fine you have to pay for the traffic or violation ticket. It’s also different from any insurance cost increase or surcharge you have to pay if you are in an accident that was your fault. You are billed even if you don't own or insure a vehicle.

How much are driver risk premiums?
The amount depends on the number of relevant convictions you get. For example, the premium for one excessive speeding offence is $320. It’s $905 for one Criminal Code conviction like impaired driving. And it’s $3,760 for two Criminal Code convictions.

How are you billed for driver risk premiums?
You will only get one driver risk premium bill a year. But because the assessment period is three years, one conviction during this period means you have to pay the premium each year for three years. For example, if you have one excessive speeding conviction, then you’ll have to pay $320 (the driver risk premium) each year for three years, for a total of $960.

Can you get billed a driver penalty point premium and a driver risk premium?
Both the new driver risk premium program and the old DPP premium are currently in existence and will continue to operate until the new program is phased in completely and the old program is discontinued. During the transition, you’ll only get billed under one program. You’ll be billed whichever premium is the highest.

How how long do you have to pay?
You get a DPP or driver risk premium bill once a year. You have to pay the bill within 30 days of the invoice date. You can pay it in person at any bank (and usually by Internet banking), Autoplan insurance broker or ICBC claim centre or driver licensing office. Or you can mail a cheque to ICBC at ICBC Revenue Accounting, 151 West Esplanade, North Vancouver, BC, V7M 3H9.

What if you can’t or don’t want to pay your DPP or driver risk premium bill?
If you don’t pay the bill within 30 days, ICBC will charge you interest. ICBC can also refuse to renew your vehicle insurance until you pay. Also, you won’t be able to renew your driver’s licence if you don’t pay a DPP or driver risk premium bill.

You can avoid paying a DPP bill if you’re willing not to drive for a year. If you give up your driver’s licence to an ICBC driver licensing office for the whole one-year billing period, you won’t have to pay the driver penalty point premium. Surrendering your licence will also reduce the amount of a driver risk premium bill.

Or you can reduce a DPP bill by giving up your licence for 30 days or more during the billing period. When you want your licence back, you can visit a driver licensing office and pay the reduced bill, plus any additional licensing fees. But this works only if you’re not required to take a driver re-examination and don’t have any outstanding prohibitions.

If you choose this option, be sure to actually take your licence in person to the driver licensing office and get a receipt for it. If you just put your licence away and decide not to drive, you’ll still owe the same money as before, plus interest, because there would be no proof that you gave up your right to drive.

You may be able to reduce a DPP bill in other cases too
ICBC will reduce the DPP bill if you’ve been prohibited or legally banned from driving for 60 days or more in the billing period. Also, you can apply to ICBC Customer Service for a refund or reduction if, for a minimum of 30 days in a row during the billing period, you:

  • Lived in another province and legally held a driver’s licence there,
  • Were not in Canada or the US,
  • Were in jail, or
  • Had medical reasons for not driving.

You would have to prove your case to ICBC.

Where can you find more information?

  • See the ICBC website at www.icbc.com.
  • If you have any questions about your driver penalty points or how much you owe for the DPP or driver risk premium, call ICBC Customer Contact at 604.661.2800 in the Lower Mainland, or 1.800.663.3051 (toll-free) elsewhere in BC.

[updated November 2012]


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