Have an Unpaid Traffic Ticket? You'll Have to Pay It to Renew Your Licence Plate

By Lesley Green
Officer writing a traffic ticket

If you live in Ontario, and have an unpaid traffic ticket, you’ll find it harder to renew your licence plate sticker come May.

Renewing your licence plate sticker requires that you have a few items in order: proof of auto insurance, your plate number, odometer reading, your vehicle identification number (VIN) and, depending on the age of your vehicle, proof that your car passed a Drive Clean inspection. You may also have to ensure that any parking tickets and red-light camera fines are paid too; otherwise, your renewal may be denied.

Starting in May, there’s one more item to consider when renewing your licence plate: unpaid traffic tickets, like speeding or careless driving. As reported by the Canadian Press, the province is giving Ontario’s municipalities the power to deny licence plate renewals if a driver has unpaid fines for driving-based offences, going as far back as seven years.

The change comes about as a result of the Making Ontario's Roads Safer Act that was passed in the summer of 2015 and is one of the last outstanding items to be enacted under the legislation. The reason it was not enacted sooner, is because the technology needed to collect the fines wasn't quite ready, explained Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca. It's expected the system will be ready by May.

The Act also increased fines for distracted driving and "dooring" cyclists and introduced new penalties for drug-impaired driving. These fines and penalties are already in place.

Added Motivation to Pay Fines

Even though people with unpaid speeding tickets are already subject to licence suspension, Del Duca hopes that plate denial will be an added motivator to pay their fines.

"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.

In total, it's estimated that municipalities in the province are owed about $1.4 billion in unpaid fines; however, only about one-third of this amount, $500 million, is from the last seven years.