Vancouver couple ticketed over expired insurance stickers in Seattle

Apr 12 2023, 7:06 pm

A Vancouver couple were ticketed for their out-of-date licence plate insurance sticker on a recent visit to Seattle, despite BC doing away with yearly sticker renewals last year.

Linda Huang and her boyfriend, Colen Liu, were down in Seattle for a family visit when they parked their car near Cal Anderson Park in Capitol Hill and went to a nearby restaurant.

construction no parking

The couple saw this construction-related parking sign but thought since they were there after 3 pm they could park for free. (Submitted)

Huang said a tree and a construction cone obscured the pay parking sign, and they believed the spot was free. They returned to find two tickets on the dash — one for not paying and a second for “improper licence display.”

The couple understood the ticket for not paying, even though the sign was partly hidden, but didn’t think the second was fair.

The ticket reads “expired tabs July 2022,” and when they tracked down the bylaw officer who was still nearby ticketing other vehicles, she apparently confirmed to the couple it was because of the out-of-date sticker — but seemed confused when the couple said BC residents don’t need yearly stickers.

“We were just really frustrated. It’s like a double whammy when you get two tickets,” Huang said.

“It was super frustrating,” Liu added. “Honestly, I think this is probably due to a lack of knowledge or communication with BC insurance policies and Seattle bylaw enforcement.”

licence plate tabs

British Columbians no longer have to update their insurance stickers every year. (Daily Hive)

BC stopped issuing licence plate insurance stickers last year. As of May 1, 2022, drivers no longer need to display their insurance date on the licence plate — simply carrying the insurance documents will do.

While the Washington State Patrol hasn’t issued any tickets for expired BC tabs and said officers near the border are aware of the change, at least one parking patrol officer in Seattle appears to be ticketing for them.

Huang and Liu decided to just pay both tickets since disputing them and going back to court in Seattle would be too much of a hassle. But with the new decal rules in BC, they think the two jurisdictions should communicate more so other drivers aren’t at risk of a fine.

“I think this is something that needs a bit of investigation because there are a lot of people from Vancouver going to Seattle.”

Wayne McCann, interim parking enforcement unit manager in Seattle, said that licence plate tabs in Washington are for vehicle registration, not insurance purposes. He knows about the changes to BC tabs, and said this ticket was given in error.

He’ll be following up with the officer involved, as well as sending a department-wide reminder email today.

“It was just the person giving the citation wasn’t paying attention,” he said. “I don’t know what happened, but I can assure you that nobody [from BC] has to be at risk of getting citations coming down here with insurance tabs on their plates that say 2021 or 2022.”

McCann added he’s willing to help Huang and Liu get both citations cancelled, although now that they’ve paid the fine, it may be a longer process going through Seattle’s damage claims office.

He encouraged any other BC driver who’s incorrectly ticketed for expired tabs in Seattle to call the parking enforcement office at (206) 386-9012.

Meanwhile, the Insurance Corporation of BC, which handles all vehicle insurance in the province, told Daily Hive last week it’s advising drivers to consider removing their expired decals to avoid hassle when travelling.

“Although this is not a requirement within BC, drivers should consider removing decals if travelling out of province because an expired decal may draw attention from law enforcement in other jurisdictions,” ICBC said.

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