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Drivers who don't pay B.C. COVID fines may soon be unable to renew licence

Last Updated May 12, 2021 at 11:28 pm PDT

Summary

B.C. legislation would mean people who don't pay COVID-related fines may be prevented from renewing driver's licence

If passed, proposed amendments to Motor Vehicle Act would take effect July 1

People with outstanding fines would get notice from ICBC ahead of driver's licence expiry

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The B.C. government is trying to make it hard for people to skip out on paying their COVID-19 fines. It has introduced legislation that would mean people who don’t pay up may be unable to obtain or renew a driver’s licence or vehicle licence through ICBC.

This is a measure already taking place in other provinces.

If passed, the proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act would take effect July 1. People with outstanding fines will get a notice from ICBC ahead of the ir driver’s license expiry and vehicle licence renewal.

“Clear correspondence will be given by ICBC weeks in advance of people’s insurance or licence renewal deadline, as is standard practice with all outstanding fine debts. This will ensure customers are not caught off guard,” reads a statement from the province.

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In December 2020, the government instructed ICBC to begin sending unpaid COVID-19 fines to a collection agency after 30 days when the dispute period has ended or the courts have confirmed guilt.

Other unpaid violation ticket files typically go to collections after 12 months.

In March, the B.C. government raised some fines for those who violate provincial health orders.

If you are ticketed for attending a party or other non-compliant gathering is $575. The province said the previous amount of $230 was not enough to deter people from breaking the rules.

The fine for hosting a large event is $2,300.

The fines for people who ignore mask rules and other measures as part of the provincial health order are $230 each.

In the province there are unpaid tickets worth nearly $1.2 million and so far only 14 per cent of the nearly 2,000 tickets handed out during the pandemic have been paid. Of those remaining Farnworth says a lot are being disputed.

“It is a significant number and you know that’s to be expected – many people when they get a ticket dispute it. What we’re making clear is this. You have that right to dispute a ticket but when you lose you’re going to have to pay that fine

Disputed fines of $2,300 and up are heard by a judge and the rest are heard by justice of the peace

In the province, there are unpaid tickets worth nearly $1.2 million and so far only 14 per cent of the nearly 2,000 tickets handed out during the pandemic have been paid. Of those remaining Farnworth says a significant number remaining is being disputed.