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Posted: May 13, 2021

Repercussions coming for unpaid COVID-19 fines

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

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.

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.

“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 Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “We’ve already moved up the deadline for sending unpaid COVID-19 fines to collections. 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.”

Currently, RTI applies to various statutes such as the Motor Vehicle Act and the Liquor Control and Licensing Act. To obtain relief, a debtor must pay their outstanding fines in full or establish a suitable repayment arrangement.

In December 2020, 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.

The total amount of the 1,679 violation tickets processed by ICBC as of May 8, is $1,179,980. Only $172,825, or 14% of the total, has been paid.

The Motor Vehicle Act allows ICBC to refuse to issue driver’s licences and vehicle licences to people indebted to government due to their failure to pay a fine under specific statutes, including the Motor Vehicle related Criminal Code of Canada offences, the Commercial Transport Act, the Passenger Transportation Act and the Liquor Control and Licensing Act.

Drivers may appeal an RTI decision through the superintendent of motor vehicles.

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