British Columbia

B.C. moves to refuse driver's licence renewals for those who don't pay COVID fines

In an attempt to put some teeth into COVID-19 safety orders, legislation is coming to deny licences to drivers with outstanding fines.

New legislation means people with outstanding fines have to pay up before renewing their driver's licence

New legislation introduced in B.C. means people with outstanding COVID-19 safety violation fines will have to pay up before they can renew their licence. (Carolyn Ray/CBC)

The British Columbia government is trying to put some teeth into the fines issued to people flouting COVID-19 safety orders.

New legislation introduced Tuesday could see people with unpaid fines have their efforts to obtain or renew a driver's or vehicle licence blocked by ICBC.

"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 Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

"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."

If passed, the Motor Vehicle Act will be changed to trigger an RTI or "refuse to issue" restriction to people with outstanding fines levied under the Emergency Program Act and COVID-19 Related Measures Act.

RTIs will be applied retroactively to unpaid fines, and notice will be served through ICBC ahead of a licence expiry or renewal date.

In March, B.C. more than doubled the base fine for COVID order non-compliance, boosting it from $230 to $575.

The fine for hosting or organizing a prohibited event is $2,300.

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

The change is set to come into effect July 1.

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