COVID fines must be paid to renew driver’s licence under proposed legislation

Oustanding COVID-19 fines would have to be paid before a driver can obtain or renew a B.C. driver’s licence or vehicle licence under new legislation proposed by the province.

“Those who have been fined need to realize it’s time for them to pay up,” Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general, said Wednesday.

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If passed, the proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act would extend so-called “refuse to issue” restrictions to all fines issued under the Emergency Program Act and COVID-19 Related Measures Act, as well as unpaid fines stemming from the federal Quarantine Act.

“Those who refuse to pay their fine will be unable to obtain or renew their drivers’ licence or vehicle licence,” said Farnworth. “This will be retroactive, meaning it will be applied to any outstanding COVID-19 violation tickets.”

The amendments would come into force on July 1.

“We all want to see people pay their fines, especially when their actions have put others at risk,” Farnworth said.

Those with outstanding fines will receive notice from ICBC ahead of their drivers licence expiry and vehicle licence renewal.

The B.C. government already moved up the deadline for sending unpaid COVID-19 fines to a collection agency, which has been effective “in many cases,” said Farnworth.

In December, the province 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 tickets typically go to collections after 12 months, said the province.

If someone is unable to pay the fine, they can ask for it to be lowered during the 30-day dispute period, Farnworth said, and repayment arrangements can be made under certain circumstances.

Denial of licence renewal can be appealed to the superintendent of motor vehicles to be reviewed on any grounds, including hardship.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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