The B.C. government has proposed new legislation that could create additional complications for any residents with outstanding COVID-19 fines.
Under the proposed legislation, introduced today, the government says people who leave COVID-19 fines unpaid may be unable to obtain or renew a B.C. driver’s license or vehicle license.
If the legislation is passed, the proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act will extend “refuse to issue” (RTI) restrictions to fines issued under the Emergency Program Act and COVID-19 Related Measures Act.
The RTI will apply to all outstanding fines under these acts and will be applied retroactively.
“That small minority of persons who have been fined for violating the rules in place to protect us all are going to be held accountable for the debt they owe,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “We’ve already moved up the deadline for sending unpaid COVID-19 fines to collections. Now, we’re going to refuse to issue offenders a driver’s licence or vehicle licence if they still won’t take their tickets seriously and pay up.”
People with outstanding fines will receive notice of the RTI from ICBC ahead of their driver’s license expiry and vehicle license renewal and the amendments will come into force on July 1, 2021.
The government says, regarding payment options, that people with COVID-19 fines are able to request the court lower the fine if they lack the means to pay. Repayment arrangements can also be requested and will be considered by ICBC depending on financial and hardship needs
RTI currently applies to various statutes such as the Motor Vehicle Act and the Liquor Control and Licensing Act. To obtain relief, a debtor must pay their outstanding fines in full or establish a suitable repayment arrangement.
The government says that the total amount of the 1,679 violation tickets processed by ICBC as of May 8, 2021, is $1,179,980. Only $172,825, or 14 per cent of the total, has been paid.
Drivers who are extended an RTI will be able to appeal the decision through the superintendent of motor vehicles.