You are required to carry automobile insurance in British Columbia. However, many people continue to drive even though they do not have insurance coverage. This article explains what will happen if you drive without insurance in BC.
If you are pulled over, and you cannot show your insurance card, the police officer can charge you with any of the three following offences:
- Driving without insurance
- Failing to produce an insurance document
- Failing to display a decal on your license plate
The specific citation that the police officer provides to you will show which offence for which you are being charged. Driving without insurance is the most serious offence.
Types of Traffic Tickets
An officer can give you various kinds of traffic tickets if you are driving without insurance. These include:
- Violation Ticket
- Appearance Notice
Generally, the officer will provide you with a violation ticket that sets out one of the three charges, above. However, if you have a poor driving record or previous offences regarding lack of insurance, you may get either an Appearance Notice or a Summons. You generally will not get either one of these until after the interaction with the police officer. In fact, it could be months later. It is usually delivered by mail.
If you receive a Violation Ticket, you generally will not have to appear in court. You can avoid going to court if you simply pay the fine associated with the ticket. Otherwise, the notice will indicate the date and time that you must appear.
Be sure to read the ticket thoroughly. It will describe your charges, the penalties associated with the charge, and whether you must appear in court.
Fines and Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
The penalties associated with not having insurance vary depending on the actual charge. If you are charged with the harshest conviction of driving without insurance, the fine is $598, which includes a $520 fine and a victim surcharge of $78.
If you are convicted of failing to produce an insurance document, then the fine is $81. Finally, if you are convicted of failing to display a decal on your license plate, then a fine of $109 will be imposed.
Each fine can be reduced by $25 if you pay within the first 30 days of the conviction. If you pay the penalty on time, then it will not harm your credit rating. However, if you do not pay the fine at all, you may not be able to renew your license.
Pleading Guilty or Fighting the Fine
If you would like to plead guilty, you simply pay your fine and move on. You can often mail the payment in, or you can pay it in person. You should be sure that your payment reaches the Court within the first 30 days of conviction—that does not mean just ensuring that it is mailed within the 30 days. If you pay the fine, thereby pleading guilty, the offence will remain on your driving record.
You can also choose to fight the charge by pleading not guilty or disputing the amount of the fine. You should deliver a Notice of Dispute within the 30 days of receiving the charge. Again, you can provide the notice personally or place it in the mail. Once the Court receives the notice, it will set a hearing date for you. The date may be within a few weeks or a few months of providing your notice.
At your hearing, the police officer will appear to testify, and you have the opportunity to question the officer as well. You can also present any evidence that you want the Court to consider. The judge will then decide whether you are guilty. If guilty, the judge can impose a fine and can restrict your ability to drive.
Getting Help with an Uninsured Accident Claim
If you have suffered injuries in an accident with someone who was uninsured, the personal injury lawyers at Diamond & Diamond are ready to assist you. Their unsurpassed knowledge of the laws and experience obtaining compensation for victims whose injuries were caused by someone without insurance make them the lawyers to go to when you need advice and representation. Don’t delay, contact our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now about your claim. Consultations are free, and we have offices located throughout British Columbia.