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More than $1 billion owed in speeding fines

GAP

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More than $1 billion owed in speeding fines
Unlike parking tickets, no effective way to get people to pay up, says police services board
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Traffic scofflaws owe provincial municipalities more than $1 billion in unpaid speeding tickets and it is time to pay up, says the Ontario Association of Police Services Boards.

The drive by heist of revenue from lead foots, red light runners and illegal turners on roads in this province - actually $1,048,607,020.80 and counting – appeared to catch the cash-strapped Liberal government off guard.

“It’s a heck of a lot of money,” said Attorney General Chris Bentley, whose government is $19.7 billion in the hole and looking for ways to climb out from under the historic debt load. “Any amount of money that is owed by somebody is money we obviously want to collect for revenue reasons and for good enforcement reasons.”

Surprisingly, there is simply no mechanism to make people pay their speeding fines – especially those living out of the province, said Alok Mukherjee, president of the board, which governs local police departments. You can’t get arrested for getting a slew of speeding tickets, he added.

“You lose points … you can have your license suspended but you get it back,” he said. “Unless the consequences create a deterrent there is no incentive for people to pay because the consequences are pretty limited right now.”

The problem of unpaid fines was brought to the attention of the attorney general and Minister of Community Safety Rick Bartolucci by the police services boards at Queen’s Park on Monday.

There is no effective measure to get people to pay other than using a collection agency, said Henry Jensen of the Ottawa Police Services Board.

“If there is a lack of teeth in a statute to enforce collection, people are not going to pay,” he said.

That is not the case with unpaid parking tickets in Toronto. If motorists don’t pay those they can’t register their vehicle annually. The same holds true for those who do not pay outstanding Highway 407 road toll charges.

“We have a mechanism to deal with people who don’t pay for the 407 – they don’t get their plates,” said Mukherjee who is also chair of the Toronto Police Services Board. “So why should it be otherwise in terms of municipal bylaws and the provincial offences act and so on?”
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Fishbone Jones

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The 407 was sold, by the Ontario gov't, to a Quebec firm, who in turn sold it to a Spanish consortium. There are dozens of stories out there about the strong arm tactics used by 407 ETR to gather funds.

Last year (2009) I received a bill from 407 ETR. The first one I have ever received. They told me I owed for the use of their road. The date I supposedly used it was in Jan 2004. My first notice. 5 years after the supposed offence. They gave me a plate number that I did not recognize, but seemed familiar. I called to assure them I had not travelled the 407 in approximately 20 years. They were adamant and quite belligerent. They refused to produce any evidence or cause for their billing. They simply said they would send my bill to a collection agency that would ruin my credit rating and stop me from renewing my license or vehicle plate, or I could pay the bill. I refused to co-operate.

Upon further investigation and reflection, by myself, I realized the plate was mine. After much searching through the attic of my garage, I found it in a box. It was the plate for my motorcycle that I had sold in 1988. A plate I had not used since that time, as denoted by the registration sticker on it.

Further, they said I had used that plate, on a motorcycle, in January of 2004. To compound my difficulty of driving a motorcycle in the winter of 2004 in Toronto, I was also in Afghanistan at exactly the time they said I was travelling their road.

It took me approximately one month and 25 phone calls to get them to see their error. It took another month, until the next billing period, until they sent a zero balanced bill.

I firmly believe they simply send out phony bills, that most people just pay because the hassle of not dealing with it, and 407 ETR, is just too great. Almost like they are perpetrating a mail\ wire fraud on the public and the McSquinty government is in collusion with them. They also have access to private Ministry of Transportation files in order to cross reference registrations and owner's data.

Typical McSquinty and his liebral Bantario government.

Just like their Librano federal cousins. Eh, fogedaboudit capiche?
 

zipperhead_cop

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There used to be a committal warrant system whereby if you didn't pay your fines you ended up in jail.  Now, that might incur more costs but it also might just get more people to get motivated to pay their moneys owed.  Being able to seize a car after the unpaid fines reach a certain extent might help too, although jackholes already routinely put their valuables in the name of someone else. 
Perhaps seize and hold whatever vehicle they are found in?  That would deter mom from putting Jr. Jackhole's car in her name when she is on the hook for daily impound fees. 
 

stukirkpatrick

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It's too bad the province doesn't have anything like Alberta's system of putting unpaid fine convictions on your registries record, so that you can't renew your license/registration without first paying your outstanding fines.  (And for those who *choose* not to renew their registration if the fines are too high, if they get yanked, the tow company won't release the vehicle until valid reg/insurance is presented).

I know this does nothing for out-of-province drivers but at least it takes care of the majority.

 

Greymatters

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I believe a lot of these fines over the years are related to out-of-province drivers; the system just isnt designed to compel them to pay...

Edit - to fix the problem you'd probably have to go to European system - you pay on the spot or your car gets impounded.  I cant imagine patrol officers going about their duties with a visa card reader as part of their belt accesories...

 

Dennis Ruhl

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recceguy said:
The 407 was sold, by the Ontario gov't, to a Quebec firm, who in turn sold it to a Spanish consortium. There are dozens of stories out there about the strong arm tactics used by 407 ETR to gather funds.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.  I despise toll roads and usually take the cow path alternative.  Mind you I only find them far from home and am usually in no hurry.  The gasoline tax should be enough to pay for roads and if it isn't raise it or quit spending the money on other things.

To add to the Alberta note - when you renew your registration or licence, you pay the added cost of fines at the same time - too easy.  I suspect attempting to collect the 1% or so uncollected would so uneconomical that it is easy to ignore.


Provincial revenues don't come close to covering the cost of roads but with the federal fuel tax they do but that money is used to support the CBC among other equally useful things. Roads are one thing that should fund themselves.



http://www.examenltc-reviewcta.gc.ca/ctareview/ctareview/english/reports/output/nix.htm
 

stukirkpatrick

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Forgive my ignorance on this (I had zero knowledge of provincial tickets/fines until I left Ontario) but is there an Ontario option to serve said ticket as a court-compelling summons?  Meaning that if said driver fails to pay or show up on the court date, then a provincial warrant is issued for failing to appear - a warrant is at least a minor convenience to the driver.

In Alberta IIRC if they do show up and receive a court-ordered fine, then they could get a form 21 warrant of commital (depending on the offence) if they fail to pay - so if arrested on that warrant, they serve the time or pay the fine!
 

Dennis Ruhl

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Sierra Kilo said:
Forgive my ignorance on this (I had zero knowledge of provincial tickets/fines until I left Ontario) but is there an Ontario option to serve said ticket as a court-compelling summons?  Meaning that if said driver fails to pay or show up on the court date, then a provincial warrant is issued for failing to appear - a warrant is at least a minor convenience to the driver.

In Alberta IIRC if they do show up and receive a court-ordered fine, then they could get a form 21 warrant of commital (depending on the offence) if they fail to pay - so if arrested on that warrant, they serve the time or pay the fine!

Alberta tickets are a summons to appear in court on a particular day.  If you fail to appear, you are convicted in absentia.  On docket days the clerk reads out hundreds of names.  If anyone answers (few do) they are given a trial date.  The judge finds the rest guilty.  Use of police to collect traffic fines is a misuse of resources.
 

SeanNewman

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I'm actually shocked that it's not tied to getting your plates renewed (edit - In Ontario).  I've lived in Ontario for 30 years and never knew that.

I'm in NB now and got pulled over for my window tint and they told me I wouldn't be able to get my plates renewed if I didn't get it off.
 

ajp

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I know of a case where the individual had well over $30, 000 in Ontario fines and a suspended liscence and was still driving in NB. 

When pulled over here for driving suspended he was given a minimal fine and sent on his way.  Still driving. 

I was AMAZED that the Ontario Government had not tracked him down to deal with the issue and/or on his last ticket he wasn't hauled in to make arrangements.  All of the courts run independantly and in the end he had to make trips to three separate courts to start the process at each to make repayment.  He had to do something as he had lost his 404's as he was suspended and had not reported the matter.  When all was said and done, he was paying a few hundred a month to the individual courts, and had a NB Drivers permit.
 

zipperhead_cop

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A timely article:

http://www.windsorstar.com/news/Unpaid+speeding+fines+tacked+onto+local+bills/3049022/story.html
Unpaid speeding fines may be tacked onto local tax bills


By Sarah Sacheli, The Windsor Star May 19, 2010 Comments (2)
 
Scofflaws who own houses but don’t pay their speeding tickets may soon see them tacked onto their property tax bills.

The City of Windsor is negotiating with Essex County municipalities to find ways to collect unpaid fines for a variety of violations. “We need an all-for-one compact,” said Victor Lipnicki, the city’s director of provincial offences.

The City of Windsor collects fines levied under provincial legislation, keeping a portion for administrative costs. What’s left is divied up according to assessment amongst the city and Essex County municipalities. Windsor gets 55 per cent of proceeds, the other municipalities divide the rest.

Windsor also collects fines under municipal bylaws and some federal laws like those governing airport safety, area waterways and railway property.

To date, there’s about $32 million in outstanding fines, Lipnicki said. Americans owe about $4 million, which Windsor has little recourse to collect.

But Ontario municipalities, or at the very least Essex County ones, could band together and agree to chase down scofflaws through property assessment rolls.

“We’re looking for reciprocity,” Lipnicki said. But collecting default payments, even with the property tax option, isn’t easy.

“There is a lot of time and work involved.”

Problems will arise if a property is owned jointly, as is the case with many married and common-law couples. If one owes for running a red light, the outstanding fine can’t automatically be put on the property tax bill, said city treasurer Onorio Colucci.

Windsor is in the process of parsing the provincial legislation passed last fall giving municipalities the recourse of putting default fines on property tax bills.

“It looks like there will be some hoops we will have to go through to avail ourselves of that,” Colucci said.

Lipnicki said the legislation comes into effect June 15.

I don't see this being a cash cow though.  Most of the people I ding for Driving While Suspended or Owner Operate-No Insurance don't even bother to use their welfare money for rent, let alone pay property taxes. 
 

GAP

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  Americans ignore Ontario speeding fines
By SHAWN JEFFORDS, QMI Agency
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SARNIA, Ont. - Lambton County taxpayers are footing the bill for lead-footed drivers -- many of them American -- who skip out on millions of dollars worth of speeding tickets each year.

The problem has politicians fuming and local bureaucrats lobbying the Ontario government for better tools to collect unpaid fines.

"The fines are money that belong to the taxpayers," Lambton County Warden Jim Burns said. "They end up having to pay for it."

Many of the motorists nabbed in reduced speed zones on Hwy. 402 approaching the Blue Water Bridge are American citizens who ignore Canadian tickets after they get home, Burns said.

"This is also an issue about public safety. It's not just about the county raising money through tickets."

Speed limits on Hwy. 402 through Sarnia were sharply reduced following a series of serious rear-end collisions caused by traffic backups on the bridge.

Const. John Reurink said Lambton OPP have noticed an increasing number of American motorists are simply ignoring the speed limit.

One day last week, aerial enforcement of Hwy. 402 resulted in 15 drivers being nabbed for exceeding the posted limit by more than 30 km/h -- 10 were from the U.S., Reurink said.

"A lot of the Americans that travel along the 400-series highways do abuse the speed.''

The OPP can't collect fines at the scene, unlike many of their U.S. counterparts, Reurink said.
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SeanNewman

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gcclarke said:
Sounds like a good reason to not let people back into the country.

Agreed, I don't see how their plates can't be fed into the customs computers for recognition when the snapshot of the plate is taken (if they ever come back).

I think that article is a bit of anti-Americanism, though.  10/30 of the drivers were American, and they use the title Americans ignore Ontario speeding fines".  Why not skew it "Twice as many Canadians than Americans break the law".

All of this is tied in with Big Brother, though.  It's only a matter of time (as in our lifetime) when all cars will be GPS exquipped but they will send information as opposed to just receiving it, and we'll get warnings on our dash that if we don't slow down a ticket will be issued.
 

zipperhead_cop

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Petamocto said:
Agreed, I don't see how their plates can't be fed into the customs computers for recognition when the snapshot of the plate is taken (if they ever come back).

CBSA has no mandate to enforce provincial laws.  Even if an American comes over with no license, no insurance and a car that is held together with coat hangers and masking tape they won't be turned away as long as they have their documentation and are not inadmissible for criminality or immigration issues.  Don't worry, it peeves them too. 

Petamocto said:
All of this is tied in with Big Brother, though.  It's only a matter of time (as in our lifetime) when all cars will be GPS exquipped but they will send information as opposed to just receiving it, and we'll get warnings on our dash that if we don't slow down a ticket will be issued.

With any luck, at that point we will have cars equipped with Jetsons-like auto pilots that drive for you  :)  And I agree with the unnecessary American bias of the story.  There are plenty of Canadian drivers that suck

(and 30 over isn't really all that fast)

;D
 
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