Outstanding parking tickets can reappear at license plate renewal
Changes to the Making Ontario's Roads Safer Act are allowing tickets from inactive license plates to reappear
A Kitchener woman says Service Ontario is insisting she pay for a parking ticket issued seven years ago even though she had no knowledge that it ever existed.
"It was on a car I used to own, so I didn't even have the car anymore. It changed ownership a couple of times, and I renewed plates a couple of times during that time, and no ticket had ever shown up," Amanda Moorhead told CBC K-W.
With the new debt transfer process in place, plate owners may start to see these older tickets- Ministry of Transportation
The matter of the ticket came up when Moorhead went to renew her plates. She said at first she was told by the clerk at Service Ontario that in order to view the ticket, she had to first pay the fine.
"When I asked where it was from, she said it wouldn't show-up in the system until you paid it," Moorhead said.
After paying the ticket, she discovered it issued by the City of Kitchener, in March 2011— just under seven years ago.
Moorhead said she had renewed her license plate multiple times since 2011, but this is the first she's heard of the ticket. She said when she spoke with the City of Kitchener, they said it was a glitch in the system that occasionally happens.
"I asked if the ticket itself can be an error, and was told that wasn't possible. For some reason, one glitch is possible, and the other isn't," she said.
Gloria MacNeil, the director of bylaw enforcement for the City of Kitchener, said a reminder is sent to an individual if their parking ticket hasn't been paid within 15 days. If they don't respond, another reminder is sent a month and a half later.
After 85 days, the information is passed onto the Ministry of Transportation for collections and the case would be marked for "plate denial."
"Once it's sent to the Ministry, it falls into their process for collections," MacNeil said.
She said the city uploads all the tickets at the same time, so the glitch would have occurred with Service Ontario.
"We do hear of these cases from time to time, where an old ticket would pop up on their system, but to be honest with you, I don't know why or how that happened," she said.
"We upload it all the same so the glitch, I'm assuming, is on their end cause we don't have it happen very often. "
Fines collected dating back to 2010
In May of 2017, changes to the Making Ontario's Roads Safer Act provided municipalities with more tools to collect outstanding debts related to defaulted driver offences, such as speeding, and vehicle fine, including parking tickets.
"Plate denial was expanded to include a process where outstanding debts may be transferred from a plate that has become inactive to another active plate on the same customer's record," said Bob Nichols, the senior media liaison officer with the Ministry of Transportation.
Nichols said this might be why an older parking ticket may appear on a renewal for an active plate.
"With the new debt transfer process in place, plate owners may start to see these older tickets, which may have been applied to a long-inactive plate, being applied to another active plate on their record," he said.
The Ministry of Transportation has been applying plate denial for defaulted parking fines for over 20 years. But for defaulted driver-related fines, such as speeding, plate denial was introduced on May 1, 2017.
Service Ontario collects driver fines dating as far back as May 1, 2010.
"However, older fines are still outstanding and must be paid at the appropriate court in order to lift the driver's licence suspension and plate denials," Nichols told CBC News.
He said the Ministry only denies plates upon an order from the court, which occurs with cases with fines that have "gone into default."
Too late to challenge?
Moorhead said she was told to go to court in order to challenge the ticket and get her money back.
"Considering it's a $66.00 ticket, I'm not sure I'm willing to take time out of my working day to fight [it], so it just puts me in an unfortunate situation," she said.
"I don't actually have a problem with them collecting on past owed legitimate parking tickets, it's more that I have an issue of it being a problem when you do not believe it to be a legitimate ticket."
Moorhead said she might've disputed this ticket seven years ago, if she had known about it.
"I might've challenged this ticket to begin with because I have no knowledge of this ever happening, but now seven years removed?" she said.
"It's harder for me to challenge the ticket's validity now. "