Winnipeg man to fight $200 fine for snow on licence plate

A Winnipeg motorist says he will fight a $200 ticket he received last week for not clearing all the snow from his rear licence plate.

Police have issued 300 tickets for obscured and obstructed plates since November

Winnipeg motorist Lloyd Dueck says he will fight a $200 ticket he received last week for not clearing all the snow from his rear licence plate. 2:00

A Winnipeg motorist says he will fight a $200 ticket he received last week for not clearing all the snow from his rear licence plate.

Lloyd Dueck said while he understands it's illegal for licence plates to be obstructed, he's surprised he didn't get a warning from police given the severe winter weather Manitobans have experienced lately.

"I've seen it countless times and I'm sure police officers have seen it countless times, but to actually write a ticket as opposed to just giving a warning, I just thought that was a little bit much," he told CBC News on Sunday.

Lloyd Dueck took this photograph of the snow on his rear licence plate when he was pulled over for having an obscured plate number on Thursday. (Submitted by Lloyd Dueck)
​Dueck said he was driving his pickup truck downtown on Thursday when he was pulled over by a police officer who told him his licence plate number was obstructed.

Snow covered about half of the licence plate at the bottom, but Dueck said it did not cover every letter and number.

He said he apologized, but the officer still gave him a ticket.

"We're just quite surprised at his response and just no empathy for, you know, the conditions that we live in," Dueck said.

What the law says

Section 61(1) of the Drivers and Vehicles Act says licence plates must be "clearly visible and readable and unobscured by any part of the vehicle, its attachments or its load."

Section 4.25(1.1) of the Highway Traffic Act states that vehicle licence plates cannot be obstructed in a way that prevents the plate number and issuing jurisdiction from "being accurately captured by an image capturing enforcement system."

Dueck says he should have received a warning instead of a $200 ticket for having snow on his licence plate, given the harsh winter weather lately. (CBC)
Fines are $113.10 for having an obscured number plate under the Drivers and Vehicles Act and $203.80 for operating a vehicle with an obstructed plate under the Highway Traffic Act.

Winnipeg police have issued 300 tickets for both offences since Nov. 1, Const. Eric Hofley told CBC News.

A total of 325 tickets were issued for those offences in the 2013 calendar year, he said, noting that the majority of tickets are handed out during the winter months.

"When you have a pristine vehicle, completely clean, and there's only snow covering that licence plate, you know, that's going to attract the attention. You have to, as an officer, question why is that," he said.

Hofley disputed claims that fining drivers for obscured or obstructed licence plates is a cash grab, saying it is a serious safety issue.

"If you're the victim of a hit and run, you know, you're going to concentrate on that plate, right? If you can't read that plate, then you're going to be out," he said.

Dueck said he always wipes the snow off his truck before hitting the road, but he admitted that he doesn't always clear snow from the licence plate, especially when it's extremely cold outside.

"Going back to your bumper and cleaning that off is not necessarily the first thing that comes to your mind when you're trying to get to work in the morning," he said.

Dueck said he plans to contest his ticket in court.


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