BY PAMELA FAYERMAN
UPDATE MAY 12:
B.C.’S Solicitor General Mike Farnworth has announced that those who refuse to pay COVID-19 fines may not be able to renew or even obtain a driver’s licence or one for a vehicle.
“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. 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,” he said today.
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been tracking the number of tickets paid and the amounts collected. Here’s the last story I wrote two months ago:
Over 800 violation tickets have been issued to people for disobeying public health COVID-19 orders in B.C.
In just three months, the number of tickets issued has doubled. But ICBC, which collects provincial and federal fines on behalf of the province, is still facing huge challenges getting violators to pay.
Indeed, the latest figures available show that only 100 tickets have been paid – 91 out of 704 provincial violation tickets and just nine of 102 federal Quarantine Act tickets.
That represents just 13% of all tickets issued. In terms of the money collected so far, fines paid to date add up to $669,152. But only $58,370 has been paid – or 8.72%.
The data provided by staff in the Solicitor General’s ministry is up to the end of February.
Nearly 10% of all tickets (76) have either been disputed successfully or cancelled. About 42% are currently being disputed which means a court date has been requested.
Guilty verdicts have been entered in just over a third of all tickets – 272 provincial cases and 18 in federal cases but most of those fines have yet to be paid. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth and Premier John Horgan have both said that rule breakers will be held accountable. They’ve said the government will retain collection agencies to go after violators who don’t pay their fines. The government can also seek to garnish wages or bank accounts and put liens on real estate. Currently, failure to pay tickets does not impact an individual’s ability to renew their driver’s license or vehicle insurance. That would undoubtedly be a more compelling reason to pay fines.
Here’s the latest data:
Provincial tickets on file: 704
- Paid: 91
- Currently in dispute (court date requested): 306
- Guilty (i.e., the ticket has passed the 30 days to dispute, or was in dispute but the alleged offender did not show for their court date, or the dispute was heard and led to a guilty judgement decision): 272
- Other: 35*
*includes cancelled tickets, not guilty tickets (for example, the dispute was heard and led to a not guilty decision), and in-progress tickets ( neither paid nor disputed at this time)
- Total value of fine amounts on the 704 provincial tickets: $565,980
- Total value of provincial fines paid to date (as of Feb 27, 2021): $48,571.66
Federal Quarantine Act tickets on file: 102
- Paid: 9
- Currently in dispute (court date requested): 34
- Guilty (i.e., the ticket has passed the 30 days to dispute, or was in dispute but the alleged offender did not show for their court date, or the dispute was heard and led to a guilty judgement decision): 18
- Other: 41*
*includes cancelled tickets, not guilty tickets (dispute was heard and led to a not guilty decision), and in-progress tickets (i.e., neither paid nor disputed at this time)
- Total value of fine amounts on the 102 federal tickets: $103,172
- Total value of federal fines paid to date (as of Feb 27, 2021): $9800
FACT CHECK: How many COVID-19 violation tickets have been paid? Not many.