Ontario drivers must still renew licence plates or face fines, despite it being free
When the Ontario government dropped the licence plate stickers, many drivers thought they no longer had to renew plates, but some drivers are finding out the hard way that is not the case.
Two days ago, 82-year-old Gail Salmon received a fine from Quebec police in the mail. Her Ontario plates recently expired, unaware she needed to renew them.
When Salmon called the Ontario government for more information, they informed her that she needed to check her own expiry date.
“It’s a lot of money for something that, if I would have known, but she said we don’t send out notices anymore. You’re just supposed to remember," said Salmon.
She was shocked when she saw the ticket since she hadn’t been to Quebec recently. But then she remembered that just two weeks ago she loaned her car to her neighbour Mary to go to Le Nordik Spa in Chelsea, Que. That’s when local police saw the expired sticker and checked her plates.
"I’m quite upset about it," says Salmon. "Mary was nice enough to offer to pay it and I said no, we’ll split it. So this is what we’re doing."
The fine was nearly $500 for the expired plates, but that's not even what she's most upset about.
"There’s a little box that says I’m guilty,” says Salmon. “And I hated putting that little check to say that I’m guilty. I’ve never been guilty of anything in my life.”
Although the Ontario government eliminated plate stickers and fees, drivers are still required to renew their license plate if it has expired.
Sgt. Martin Fournel of the MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais Police says they don't target Ontario drivers and that every plate they check, sticker or no sticker, must be verified through their system first.
“I can assure you that we give as many, if not more, to Quebec residents,” says Fournel, “Our officer will validate and check the plate though the system to make sure it’s expired. But when those stickers are gone, our officers will have to verify plates manually.”
Many Ontario drivers say they have received this same type of fine after parking their vehicles in different locations across Quebec. However, police say they only target obvious vehicles that stand out.
"Our officers are not getting off their vehicles to walk through a line of vehicles in a row to check stickers," says Fournel. “They don’t do that.”
For Salmon, she just hopes her misfortune helps other Ottawa drivers avoid the same situation.
"It’s sneaky of them," says Salmon. “You know, I think just trying to grab all the money they can from the people in Ontario.”
Ontario will no longer be mailing out notices but drivers can go on the Ontario government website and register for electronic renewal notifications in the form of email or text.
Drivers have the option for a one or two-year renewal.
There's no cost to renew, but it still must be done.