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Behind-the-Wheel

Few exceptions to this rule

Operation of unlicensed motor vehicles

If it has a motor, gasoline or electric, and you operate it on a highway, chances are you need a driver's licence and the vehicle will need licence and insurance.

There are few exceptions to this rule.

While it may be convenient to take your quad to the community mailboxes instead of walking or driving your lawn tractor around the block because you cannot easily drive between the upper and lower parts of your yard, it could be an expensive trip in the wrong circumstances.

The same applies to your favourite off-road vehicle. It may be convenient to ride to the nearest off-road area rather than loading it onto a trailer or into the back of a pickup truck for the trip, but again, no licence and insurance probably means trouble eventually.

Turning a blind eye while you child does this will not help you escape liability either.

You may think that because police vehicles cannot easily go off road, the smart thing to do is to put the pedal to the metal and disappear.

If you can't be caught, you can't be charged, right? Perhaps, but if you are eventually tracked down, you add more serious Criminal Code or Motor Vehicle Act charges to the mix and significantly reduce the chances of being dealt with lightly.

Do you have a healthy bank account? What are your financial plans for your future? Cause a collision without insurance coverage and you may be paying that price for the rest of your life. Empty that bank account and scrap those future plans as the bills can be big ones.

Can't or won't pay? ICBC may refuse to issue or renew a driver's licence or licence plates. You may also be prohibited from driving until the judgment is satisfied.

What happens if you do the right thing and pull over after being caught in these circumstances? There are a variety of offences that an officer may choose to write a ticket for.

These are the most likely to be chosen:

  • No vehicle licence
  • No driver's licence
  • No insurance 

Currently, the ticketed amounts are $109, $276 and $598 respectively.

There is a small risk of being arrested on the spot for operating an uninsured vehicle.

Unattended, unlicensed vehicles on a highway are also subject to being towed away.

However, if there is no other reason to tow your vehicle and you are willing to wait with it until family or friends show up with a pickup or suitable trailer, you can use that to move the vehicle off the highway instead of being towed.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/off-road-vehicles/operation-unlicensed-motor-vehicles

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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