BC government says unpaid COVID-19 fines may lead to denial of driver's or vehicle license

May 12 2021, 2:23 pm

People who leave COVID-19 fines unpaid may be unable to obtain or renew a BC driver’s or vehicle licence under newly proposed legislation.

If passed, proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act will extend “refuse to issue” (RTI) restrictions to fines issued under the Emergency Program Act and COVID-19 Related Measures Act. RTI will apply to all outstanding fines issued under these acts and will be applied retroactively.

“That small minority of persons who have been fined for violating the rules in place to protect us all are going to be held accountable for the debt they owe,” said BC’s Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth.

He noted the province has already moved up the deadline for sending unpaid COVID-19 fines to collections, and now, “we’re going to refuse to issue offenders a driver’s licence or vehicle licence if they still won’t take their tickets seriously and pay up.”

People with outstanding fines will receive notice of the RTI from ICBC ahead of their driver’s licence expiry and vehicle license renewal. These amendments will come into force on July 1, 2021.

Still, the province said people have various options available to them when it comes to paying these fines. These options include:

  • People with COVID-19 fines can request the court lower the fine if they lack the means to pay;
  • Repayment arrangements can be requested and will be considered by ICBC depending on financial and hardship needs;
  • RTI decisions can also be appealed to the superintendent of motor vehicles to be reviewed on any grounds, including hardship.

In December 2020, the government instructed ICBC to send unpaid COVID-19 fines to a collection agency 30 days beyond the end of the dispute period, or the courts have confirmed guilt. Other unpaid violation ticket files typically go to collections after 12 months.

The total amount of the 1,679 violation tickets processed by ICBC as of May 8, 2021, is $1,179,980.

Only $172,825, or 14% of the total, have been paid so far.

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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