Ottawa

In Quebec, lock your car or face a fine

Lauren and Julius Jeppe woke one recent Monday morning to find they'd each been fined— for failing to lock their car doors.

Wakefield couple dinged $108 each for their open-door policy

Lauren Jeppe and her husband each got slapped with a $108 ticket earlier this month for leaving their vehicles unlocked in a parking lot near their Wakefield, Que., home. (Kristy Nease/CBC)

Lauren Jeppe was miffed one recent Monday morning to find she'd been ticketed for parking overnight in a lot near her Wakefield, Que., home.

It wasn't that she and her husband, Julius — his car was ticketed, too — had parked illegally, per se. They'd been fined for leaving their vehicles unlocked.

"I've never heard of that law anywhere else in our country," said Jeppe, who discovered the $108 ticket sitting in the driver's seat of her blue minivan when she went to drive her children to daycare.

The couple had left their vehicles parked at Wakefield Mill. They live in one of the high-end inn's buildings, and regularly use a parking lot reserved for hotel staff and guests.

Against the law

The fines, which begin at $60 but rise to $108 with added fees, were issued March 11 under Quebec's 1990 Highway Safety Code.

According to the code, it's against the law to leave a vehicle unlocked on a public roadway, a road accessible by the public or a publicly accessible parking lot.

Jeppe, who said she's always felt safe in Wakefield and never leaves valuables in her vehicle, said they plan to fight the tickets.

"My husband and I moved from a rougher neighbourhood in Manitoba, so we've always left our cars unlocked. That way, people don't break your window to get in there. They just open it," she said.

Under Quebec's Highway Safety Code, unattended vehicles parked in public places must be locked. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Rarely enforced

Sgt. Martin Fournel said MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais police have received 271 reports in the last five years about thefts from vehicles parked near tourist or commercial areas.

He said the fines are meant to prevent that.

Between 2013 to 2018, officers have issued 458 fines to vehicle owners who left keys in the ignition, left their cars unlocked, or a combination of the two.

At about 76 tickets per year, it's rarely enforced, Fournel said. But it is the law, at least in Quebec. (There's no similar rule on the books in Ontario.)

MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais police have already earned a reputation for scanning parking lots for motorists who've failed to update their licence plate stickers.

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