In 2015 the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act was passed. One of the final pieces of that legislation will go into effect May 2017 to provide Municipalities the ability to deny licence plates to individuals who have outstanding court fines owing. With approximately $1.4 billion in outstanding fines owed to municipalities it is hoped that this new legislation will encourage individuals to address their overdue court fines.
There are a few limitations. The first being that this will only be retroactive for seven years, which covers roughly 1/3 or $500 million in overdue fines. This legislation will also not apply to vehicles that are jointly owned or that are owned by a company.
Currently, a court fine that is not paid within the period set by the court will result in the defendant’s licence being suspended. Drive Under Suspension carries very significant penalties such as a fine ranging between $1,000 to $5,000 (plus the 25% victim fine surcharged) for a first offence, a mandatory further 6 month suspension, and possible imprisonment. The current process of a suspended driver’s licence provides significant motivation to get fines paid along with a hefty penalty for continuing to drive while the licence is suspended.
Driving a vehicle without a plate or an up-to-date validation sticker will generally result in a ticket for $85.00 plus court costs and victim fine surcharge for a total of $110.00. By comparison, this new tool to encourage individuals to pay their outstanding fines carries much less consequence. Although not having a plate or up-to-date validation sticker would certainly be more visible to police as a red flag in comparison to checking a licence plate number to discover that the driver has a suspended licence.
Of other concern, the fact that the new legislation does not apply to vehicles jointly owned or that are owned by a company provide avenues for individuals to still have their vehicles properly plated. It will certainly be interesting to see whether this new measure will be enough to encourage some greater portion of the roughly $500 million in outstanding fines that will be effected to be paid.
Allison Jones of The Canadian Press has recently printed an article on this issue in The Toronto Star.
Ontario drivers with unpaid speeding tickets to be denied licence plates
WITH MUNICIPALITIES IN THE PROVINCE OWED A COLLECTIVE $1.4 BILLION IN UNPAID TICKETS, THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT HOPES THE NEW PENALTY WILL ENCOURAGE SPEEDING SCOFFLAWS TO PAY OUTSTANDING FINES.
TORONTO—Speeding scofflaws in Ontario will soon be feeling extra pressure to pay outstanding fines, as the province gives municipalities the power to deny them licence plates.
Under changes the Liberal government is set to enact in May, people who have not paid fines for driving-based offences, such as speeding and careless driving, won’t be able to get or renew their plates.
The current plate denial regime only applies to vehicle-based offences, such as parking tickets and red-light camera fines.
Municipalities in the province are owed a collective $1.4 billion in unpaid fines for provincial offences, including those under the Highway Traffic Act. The Association of Municipalities of Ontario has been asking the government for more than a decade for more tools to collect that money.
Some of those fines date back 50 years and couldn’t be feasibly collected, so the government is making the policy retroactive seven years.
About one-third of the defaulted fines are from the past seven years. Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca acknowledged that even with the changes, municipalities won’t be able to collect all of the approximately $500 million, but it sends a strong message to people with outstanding fines.
“If they’ve managed to navigate the system to their benefit up until this point in time, it’s that much harder now for them to do it,” he said. “With any system that government puts in place there will always be those who will find creative ways to avoid playing by the rules, I suppose, but this is another opportunity for us to be able to get those fines collected and make sure people get a clear message that they can’t continue to act in this way.”
Municipalities had been hoping the change would apply farther back than seven years, but are now just anxious to collect more of the outstanding fines, said Lynn Dollin, president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
“If those fines aren’t paid, it’s you and I covering those administration costs out of our property taxes, so we want to make sure that we’re getting the full bang for the buck and everything that we’re entitled to is coming to us,” she said.
People with unpaid speeding tickets are already subject to licence suspension, but plate denial will be an added motivator to pay those fines, said Del Duca.
“A person might be theoretically out there driving with an expired or suspended licence, therefore they’re not going forward to get it renewed, but you have the visual sticker on your licence plate, you have all that stuff that is easier for law enforcement to recognize at a glance,” he said.
The change is one of the last to be enacted under the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act that passed in 2015. The legislation also increased fines for distracted driving and “dooring” cyclists and introduced new penalties for drug-impaired driving.
The regulation — which would not apply to jointly owned vehicles or those registered to a company — is posted for a mandatory public comment period, which ends Monday.