swade's picture

Do tickets for cyclists count against their demerits?

Was ticketed for proceeding early off a light a few days ago. I know that in Ontario demerits don't get applied to cyclists. Wondering if AB is the same and what would the process be for one trying to make sure demerits aren't applied.


pinkrobe's picture

You shouldn't get demerits,

You shouldn't get demerits, as it wasn't a MOTOR vehicle offence. Your driver's license is merely ID when you're on your bike. In fact, you might as well just carry your passport around instead.

ride's picture

Not so sure

I'm not so sure about that, pinkrobe, but of course IANAL. Yes, you don't need a driver's licence when you're riding a bike, but if you produce it as ID, you may find that you do get points against your licence. If you ride a bike while drunk and get stopped by police, you can, I'm told, be charged for impaired driving. Make sure you have other picture ID with you besides a driver's licence.

pinkrobe's picture

A friend of mine went

A friend of mine went through this way back in the early 90's. He was riding his bike down a hill, got busted for speeding [might have been 19 St. NW], showed his license and got a ticket for speeding. He went to court, asked that the charges be dropped because he was ticketed as a motor vehicle operator, not as a cyclist. BAM! Charges dropped. [I think he asked the prosecutor to identify which motor vehicle he was operating. They couldn't, 'cause he didn't.]

I agree that you can be charged with all sorts of infractions that will get you points on your license. You have the right to fight those charges in court, and if you are charged with a motor vehicle infraction you SHOULD fight it. Why plead guilty to an offence you didn't [technically] commit? That said, I imagine there is a law that says you can't ____________ while intoxicated. If you get charged with that, it won't matter what you're doing...

edit: Here's something - if you can be charged with a motor vehicle offence by producing your DL while on a bike, then by not producing it, you should be charged with [wait for it] failure to produce a valid operator's license while operating a licensed vehicle. I don't think that would stand up in court either...

tyler883's picture

I know a person that was hit

I know a person that was hit by a truck while on a snowmobile, his class 5 license was put on 6 month probation ( 17 yr old, new driver)

xcrider's picture

I carry my UCI licence as ID

I carry my UCI licence as ID on my bike as I have heard about people getting points and then having to fight t get them removed. Glad to hear you got a ticket for jumping a light in Cow instead of run over by the six cars racing through a yellow/red the other way.

umgray's picture

what photo id?

Okay, besides carrying my passport around 0 which I prefer not to, what other photo ID is there if you were born here (birth certificate) and are not a student?

Is there a photo ID that is not drivers license that I could obtain?

Just wondering....

gyrospanner's picture

How about your Firearm Possession Licence.

Or I guess if you are more into guns than I am, your Firearm Acquisition Licence.

This classic* piece of picture ID is classified as "Government Issue" and doesn't have your address on it either......

(This is the best form of ID for remaining fairly anonymous - it has just your birthday, height, sex and eye color, three of these items you could probably guess if you were looking at me! Unless you were one of those carney types who guesses weight and birthdays, too HAH!)

*** I call it classic because of all the rhetoric created and $$$'s wasted because of that program, but this is not the forum for a discussion on that!

swade's picture

I was charged under the

Under division 4 it says this:
"75 Unless the context otherwise requires, a person who is operating a cycle on a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the duties of a person driving a motor vehicle under Part 1 and this Part and Division 2 of Part 5 of the Act."

So it is pretty clear to me from this that I can be charged the same as a regular vehicle operator would be. I did produce my AB Drivers license, but the number wasn't written anywhere on my copy of the ticket. I wonder if it even matters, the court clerk or registrar just looks your name up anyway and assign demerits?

My motivation was to get across the intersection so that the cars behind me wouldn't side swipe me and also to get a head start as a small bit of good will towards them. So much for that idea. This incident was pretty fresh in my mind too:

I guess from now on I will wait until its totally green before I even put my front tire across the crosswalk. Seems more hazardous than what I did last week though.

scottmeyers's picture

I am just curious. Is this

I am just curious. Is this a situaion where bike boxes at an intersection would be of value? As I understand there purpose is to give bikes a jump in the intersection to avoid car-bike interactions. Honestly i am guilty of this same situation quite often for the same reasons you have mentioned.

The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. ~Iris Murdoch, The Red and the Green

Jaykay65's picture

Sad discussion

Swade is ticketed "for proceeding early off a light." Yet this afternoon on the way down to the Haultain Fest., not only did I see a couple of motor vehicles proceed early, one of them was a police SUV, Sergeant. In fact on the way home turning left off of 9 Avenue in Inglewood northbound onto _? Street (the road that takes you towards the zoo) the vehicle in front of me turned left on a full red ahead of the oncoming traffic. A police car was in behind me. No action by the police car. Must have been on coffee break and was looking for a place to park?

Swade, if I may ask, how early were you proceeding ahead of the light? How far across the intersection were you? Were you going straight through or turning? Were there other vehicles proceeding early? I see this daily from motorized traffic on my commute.

Why was swade singled out? Oh yeah, he was riding a bike!

swade's picture

There were cars turning left

There were cars turning left across the intersection in front of me on an advance green turn signal. I was stopped waiting to go straight through an intersection. All the cars coming from the left advance turn lane had cleared the intersection and I looked left and right and started to go across. I was less than half way across the intersection when it turned green. So yeah I did violate the act - no question about it in my mind.

My lesson learned from this is to be more aware of what's around me (I still don't even have a clue where the officer saw me do this from). I usually take the lane when I can drive the speed limit and will continue doing this and pay fines as they come. From now on though, I will not gun it early at a red light.

I'll just be mad if I get demerits by error for this. If the policy in Alberta is demerits for bikes, then fine, I won't sweat it any further.

The first words out of the officer's mouth were "So you think your not a vehicle too and can do whatever you want" I replied that I absolutely know that I am considered to be a vehicle. It went downhill from there...

mike runs's picture

The answer is yes

All relevant documents are here. The key is the distinction between "vehicle" and "motor vehicle".


The logic is (briefly):

- the demerit program is under the Demerit Point Program and Service of Documents Regulation
- that Regulation specifies that demerit points are levied against 'drivers'
- the Traffic Safety Act defines 'driver' as a person driving a 'vehicle'
- the Traffic Safety Act includes 'bicycle' in the definition 'vehicle'
- nothing I can find in either document exempts bicycles from the demerit system

Therefore cyclists are subject to demerits.

The discussion of motor vehicles is important because bicycles are not motor vehicles. If an offence in the Act applies to motor vehicles, then bicycles are (by implication) excluded - for example, Section 51(a) which prohibits driving a motor vehicle on a highway without a license.

Compare that to Section 115 of the Act which makes it an offence for the driver of a vehicle to do a bunch of things - such as 115(2)(p), drive that vehicle over the speed limit. As that section applies to vehicles, not motor vehicles, it applies to bicycles.

That's why you can get charged with speeding but not driving without a license on your bicycle.

Finally, prosecutors have broad discretion and if you get a prosecutor that thinks applying demerits to bicyclists is dumb, or if you get a prosecutor who doesn't know the ins and outs of the Act, you might get a lucky outcome, but the law isn't on your side.

swade's picture

Thanks for the link. I've

Thanks for the link. I've read all of those docs too and still can't decide whether it does or doesn't apply. They don't specifically say demerits apply to bike riders or not. They do say they apply to 'drivers'.

But it still fails a couple of other logical tests - If I don't have a license, how can demerits be applied to it? Two people (one with a license, one without) committing the same offense could be penalized differently? If I don't have a license I can still ride a bike. Further, If I get in an accident with my bike, my car insurance will not pay out, yet if I get a ticket on a bike with demerits, my insurance rates will go up.

I emailed service Alberta with the same questions.

A guy at Points (for what its worth) told me that demerits can't be applied to bike riders but that the system for applying them isn't set up to process bike riding tickets so that it is a good idea to go to court for this kind of ticket.

mike runs's picture


The act doesn't specifically say that it applies to bike riders, but its pretty clear bikes are vehicles and that means someone who rides a bike is a driver.

I agree its confusing and this might not be the intended effect (because of the unintended consequences you raise) but the Act seems to apply. Whether the database system is set up to process it this way is another question that you can't figure out from the Act.

You're right that it doesn't seem fair that someone who has a license gets penalized differently than someone who doesn't.

baileysmith6's picture


The answer is no. No demerits are taken off for cycling offences. The courts do not handle the demerit system, Alberta Registries/ Alberta Driver Control Board does that.

swade's picture

Right you are! Here an

Right you are! Here is the official response from Alberta Transportation:

"Thank you for your provincial government web inquiry dated September 10, 2009 regarding traffic tickets obtained while riding a bicycle.

The only violations placed on a driving record would be for convictions related directly to the operation of a motor vehicle, with the possible exception of tickets for stunting.

Any ticket issued to an individual on a bicycle would not be placed on a driving record. Should a bicycle-related violation appear incorrectly on your driving record, an individual may contact Driver Fitness and Monitoring to have the error corrected and the driving record adjusted.

For further information please contact Driver Fitness and Monitoring at 780-427-8230, toll free in Alberta by first dialing 310-0000. Our office hours are 8:15 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Alternately you can e-mail [email protected] or visit the department’s website at http://www.transportation.alberta.ca/"

So I will pay the fine and then in a few weeks check my driving record and followup after that if needed.