Romanov Report 31 - Jan 19, 2006

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All Licence Plates Are Personal

Licence plate numbers carry a lot of significance to drivers. From favoured combinations to complete personalized plates, they are an extension of the owner.

Policing Your Plate

If you’ve ever wondered whether the police can do a random check on your licence plate number, the answer is they can. Whether the officer is on foot or driving past your car, they can easily access your information. On foot, they’ would call in; if driving, there is a Mobile Work Station. Here’s what officers might do with the information.

The Registered Owner Of The Licence Plate

The licence plate number is your ID and must match you. The licence plate travels with you, the registered owner, from car to car. Even if your car is leased or is a company car, the licence plate is owned by you. If the licence plate says it’s registered to a 44 year old male driver whose licence has been suspended, and that looks like the person who is driving, that driver will be pulled over. If the driver is significantly different from the registered owner, then the officer may choose to pull the car over too. You can transfer your licence plate only to your spouse. If it’s a personalized plate, it can also be transferred to your children. Around the world, personalized plates can sell for a high price. However, in Canada, it is illegal to resell personalized plates. An interesting tidbit is a driver who was issued WON 649 and was subsequently hassled for money so much, he decided to return the plate.

The Car And The Licence Plate

The licence plate must match the "car" to the "owner of the licence plate". If the plate is registered to a Honda, and it’s on a BMW, then the car is either stolen or recently bought. There is a one week grace period for the registration to change if the car was recently bought, but be assured the driver will be pulled over and questioned.

Sometimes drivers will switch plates to avoid paying highway toll fees or red light camera tickets. This is a criminal offence and definitely not worth it. Some officers are designated to checking licence plate numbers for stolen cars and there’s a high possibility you will be caught. In addition, licence plate holders who block any part of the licence plate from being seen by cameras, or the police, will be ticketed. This type of ticket holds the same weight as a speeding ticket when it comes to your insurance rate. You can even get ticketed for a dirty licence plate if it’s blocking the number or validation sticker. Just as you would obey a stop sign, it’s wise to keep your licence plate in good condition.

Stolen Or Lost Plates

If your plate is stolen or lost call the police immediately. If you don’t, you may begin to receive highway toll charges, or even worse, be implicated in a crime, in which the get-a-way car involved had your licence plate. Lost or stolen plates can be replaced for only $20.

Renewing Your Licence Plate

Your renewal will fall each year on your birthday; if it’s a company car, it may be a different date. The notice should be mailed to you 60 days prior to your renewal. If you do not receive a renewal for your licence plate, the responsibility is still on you to see that the sticker gets renewed. If you don’t and you’re ticketed, the excuse that you didn’t receive the renewal will not stand in court.

A sticker designates the paid renewal and is to be placed on the rear licence plate for a private passenger vehicle and front plate for a commercial vehicle. No matter what you drive, all these vehicles must have there own unique licence plates numbers: Private Passenger, Commercial, Trailer, Bus, Motorcycle, Dealer, Diplomat, Farm, Off Road Vehicle and Snowmobile.

Your "Validation Sticker" expires at midnight on the renewal date, and not at the end of the month even though the sticker indicates only the month and year. At this time, all outstanding tickets must be paid before a new validation sticker can be issued.

You can renew your plates online, if you have no outstanding fines against your licence plate, by going to:

If not, you can go to a Ministry Of Transportation office with the following information:

- Name of the Insurance Company and the Policy Number

- Odometer reading (mileage of the vehicle)

- Vehicle Permit

- Sign and date the renewal form

- The vehicle may need a Drive Clean Certificate valid on the plate expiry date.

- Fee as indicated on the renewal form.