Despite extension in Ontario, driver fined by Quebec police for not renewing licence

·2 min read
Ontario scrapped licence-plate stickers but people still need to renew their plates. (Malcolm Campbell/CBC - image credit)
Ontario scrapped licence-plate stickers but people still need to renew their plates. (Malcolm Campbell/CBC - image credit)

An Ontario woman says police in western Quebec gave her a ticket for nearly $500 for not renewing her vehicle licence plate, which was OK in Ontario due to a COVID-driven extension, but police say that didn't fly in Quebec.

The Ontario government had instituted a grace period for residents due to COVID-19 that allowed drivers until March 31 to renew their licence plate. What wasn't clear to Barbara Francis was this did not extend to other provinces.

Francis says she was in Gatineau Park skiing with a friend on March 5, then weeks later a letter from MRC des Collines police, and a ticket for $494, arrived in the mail.

A spokesperson for MRC des Collines police said, though the Ontario government provided the grace period, it only applies in Ontario.

Police also said the fault rests with the Ontario government for not making it more clear that licence plates still need to be renewed (for free), even though residents no longer have to pay for plate sticker renewals.

I'll probably still have to end up going to court and fighting this. — Barbara Francis

The spokesperson also said police in Quebec use computers to determine whether a licence plate is up to date, not the plate sticker.

Francis said she sent the letter from police back with the box next to "not guilty" ticked off, and went into a Service Ontario location to get a letter that said she wasn't breaking any laws.

"Even having sent that, though, I'll probably still have to end up going to court and fighting this," she said.

"Because they certainly haven't responded with anything saying that they're going to cancel the ticket."

Renewing licence plates still required

The Ministry of Transportation says licence plate renewals are how the ministry checks to ensure people's insurance is up to date and they don't have any unpaid fines, fees or tolls.

Gatineau police Const. Andrée East said her force respected Ontario's grace period for personal vehicles, but started handing out tickets to people with out-of-date plates in April.

Since April 1, just over 320 tickets have been issued by Gatineau police.

East reminded Ontario drivers to take a few minutes to make sure their plate is renewed to avoid the fines in Quebec, though those drivers would also face fines in Ontario now that the grace period is up.

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