PEI·CBC Investigates

P.E.I. trucker claims impostor ruined his driving record

Rick McKie can no longer drive his 9-year-old son, Jackson, to a medical specialist in Halifax for regular appointments or haul seafood to New Brunswick.

Single father of 3 says his livelihood is on the line if he cannot clear his name

Rick McKie says he's not allowed to drive in New Brunswick because of unpaid fines totalling more than $1,000. But he says the driver who was stopped wasn’t him. (Submitted by Rick McKie)

Rick McKie can no longer drive his 9-year-old son, Jackson, to a medical specialist in Halifax for regular appointments.

He can no longer haul seafood to New Brunswick, which is part of his job trucking at Arsenault's Fish Mart in Summerside, P.E.I.

He can't even drive to Moncton for the weekend.

The reason?

He's not allowed to drive in New Brunswick because of unpaid fines there totalling more than $1,000. The fines date back to Sept. 13, 2018 in St. Stephen.

It's pretty discouraging really.— Rick McKie

The charges include failing to produce a valid driver's licence, failing to have a vehicle inspected and operating an unregistered vehicle.

But McKie says that driver who was stopped — wasn't him. 

'Onus on the police'

McKie said he didn't know anything about the charges until he received his insurance bill. His truck insurance had almost doubled to more than $100 a month. The insurance company looked into it and informed him of the unpaid fines. 

By the time he found out, it was too late to challenge the charges in court. 

Rick McKie poses with his son, Jackson. Jackson has a medical condition that requires regular checkups at the IWK Children's Hospital in Halifax. (Submitted by Rick McKie)

"I'm a single father of three kids and I can't take any chances of driving a truck. It's how I feed them," McKie said from his home in Summerside.

"It's pretty discouraging really.… I've made lots of mistakes in my life before too, but [the fact] that somebody can go use your name and drive you back down to the bottom again."

CBC News has obtained copies of the three charges from the motor vehicle records system laid against Rick McKie.

The three charges were issued one minute before midnight on Sept.13, 2018 in St. Stephen, N.B. The car the person was driving had a New Brunswick plate. That plate is no longer associated with that car.

I called the RCMP. They were no help whatsoever.— Rick McKie

The person gave an address in St. Stephen — McKie has never lived at that address, or anywhere in New Brunswick.

McKie said he was at work that day on P.E.I. until 7 p.m., went home, and took his kids to school the next morning. He insists it couldn't have been him behind the wheel of a car pulled over in St. Stephen — a four-hour drive away.

The driving ban just covers New Brunswick, but in the winter McKie needs to travel through that province for his work, and to bring Jackson to his medical appointments at the IWK Children's Hospital in Halifax.

'Compelling facts'

Doug MacEwen, registrar of motor vehicles on P.E.I., got permission from McKie to discuss his driving record. He said there are "some compelling facts" that lead him to believe somebody should take a second look at the charges laid in New Brunswick.

'There's a certain onus on the police to confirm that they are actually dealing with that person,' says Doug MacEwen, registrar of motor vehicles on P.E.I. (Al MacCormick/CBC)

Those include McKie's work schedule, his lack of New Brunswick connections, the fact that he's paid his fines in the past and his willingness to go public. 

Unfortunately, MacEwen said it's out of P.E.I.'s hands — it's up to New Brunswick to remove the charges from McKie's file. 

They take people at their word and they issue a ticket.— John Diamond, P.E.I. Crown prosecutor

"My advice to him would be to contact New Brunswick, speak to the RCMP … and state his case that he feels this was wrongly attributed to his driving record," MacEwen said.

"There's a certain onus on the police to confirm that they are actually dealing with that person."

'They take people at their word'

McKie said he tried reaching out to St. Stephen RCMP, but his concerns fell on deaf ears.

"I called the RCMP. They were no help whatsoever," he said. 

Const. Isabelle Beaulieu, who speaks on behalf of New Brunswick RCMP, said she could not discuss McKie's case for privacy reasons.

Rick McKie, centre, with his sons Dustin, left, Tyler, and Jackson, in front. (Submitted by Rick McKie)

In an email to CBC News, New Brunswick's Department of Public Safety said it is possible for a police force to revoke a ticket.

"Anyone who believes they have been issued a ticket in error should contact the issuing agency with proof why they believe the ticket isn't valid," the email said. 

McKie isn't the only driver on P.E.I. who has faced this challenge.

Crown prosecutor John Diamond said he has dealt with about a dozen of these cases in the past year-and-a-half on the Island.

'If somebody says they don't have their licence with [them], they take people at their word and they issue a ticket,' says P.E.I. Crown prosecutor John Diamond. (Al MacCormick/CBC)

He said because P.E.I. is small it can usually be quickly resolved through an administrative appeal.  

"These are usually highway traffic stops that are happening late at night," Diamond said.

"And the officer, rather than detain people for extended periods of time — they don't want to inconvenience people a great deal — so if somebody says they don't have their licence with [them], they take people at their word and they issue a ticket."

'Nobody will listen'

P.E.I. RCMP Sgt. Craig Eveleigh said if there are reasons why a police officer suspects a driver is not revealing their true identity, there are questions the officer can ask including a home address, phone number or past driving history.

He said computers in police vehicles can also help them identify the driver — but not always. 

Rick McKie, who works for Arsenault’s Fish Mart in Summerside, says his work requires him to haul lobster through New Brunswick. (Submitted by Rick McKie)

"We had an impaired driver, a young female, and she actually gave us the identification of her twin sister. So we didn't know any better because the picture matched the person we were dealing with," he said.

"It was only through the court process that we actually identified that she wasn't who she said she was."

McKie hopes by going public the New Brunswick RCMP will take a second look at his file. He hopes the issues can be resolved soon because he believes his son's health and his family's livelihood are on the line.

"Nobody will listen to me over there," McKie said. "The cops are ignoring me. It's just very frustrating."

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About the Author

Wayne Thibodeau

Prince Edward Island

Wayne Thibodeau is a reporter/editor with CBC Prince Edward Island. He has worked as a reporter, editor, photographer and video journalist in print, digital and TV for more than 20 years. He can be reached at Wayne.Thibodeau@CBC.ca