Nova Scotia

Woman wins legal battle caused by Access Nova Scotia mistake

A Halifax woman who battled Access Nova Scotia to erase a ticket caused by a clerical mistake says the province finally stepped in to clear her name and restore her driving record to what it should be.

After Anne Irwin appealed publicly for help through CBC News, the province stepped in

Anne Irwin stands beside her 2018 Subaru Crosstrek. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

A Halifax woman who battled Access Nova Scotia to erase a ticket caused by a clerical mistake says the province finally stepped in to clear her name and restore her driving record to what it should be.

Anne Irwin's 2018 Subaru Crosstrek became the centre of a mix-up in October 2017 when an employee at Access Nova Scotia accidentally detached her plate number from the vehicle two weeks after it was properly registered by the car dealer from whom she was leasing the vehicle.

Effectively, the car Irwin was driving became unregistered in the police and provincial computer system.

The mistake went undetected for two years, until Irwin was pulled over by a police officer this past July. He ran her plate, discovered the problem and gave her a ticket, which she paid.

Access Nova Scotia later discovered the error and apologized, but said it couldn't reverse the ticket. Irwin learned by paying her fine she had legally "admitted guilt." The department said Irwin's only option to get out of the ticket was to go to court, costing her time and money she wasn't sure she could spend.

Anne Irwin's Subaru Crosstrek is now properly registered and fully legal to drive. (CBC)

"It was interesting, it was frustrating. There were moments where I just threw up my hands in defeat and didn't know what to do," she said.

That's when Irwin turned to CBC News to publicly appeal to the province to do something.

"I think the publicity, the right people saw what was going on," she said. "I'm thankful that they stepped up and looked after it."

"I'm still a bit sorry that it couldn't be resolved [by] the people I spoke with initially, but I'm glad it's done now."

Within a day, a Justice Department lawyer contacted Irwin and offered to go before a Supreme Court justice to complete the paperwork to reverse the ticket. She accepted.

Anne Irwin received a letter of apology from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal in July. Some personal information has been blurred in this photo. (CBC)

In September, Irwin received notice the ticket had been withdrawn, without cost to either her or the Crown. On Monday, she received a $180 refund on her credit card for the value of the ticket.

"A big weight was lifted off my shoulders having this all looked after and done," she said.

Irwin heard from many people who were supportive after learning about her story and said the main thing she would advise people who feel they are caught in a bureaucratic problem is to be persistent.

"Keep at it. Go as far as you can on your own, ask the right questions, and if you feel like you've been wronged, stay on it. That's the only thing I can say," she said.

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