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Behind-the-Wheel

Dear Cop- Alberta Plates

I know many people who live and work in B.C. and have for many years. They are permanent residents here in B.C. They carry Alberta plates on there vehicles and when I ask them why, they say "because the insurance is cheaper." My understanding is that if you are a permanent resident of B.C. then you are required to have B.C. plates and insurance. If they were to be involved in an "at fault" accident would there out of province insurance be valid? If it is not valid would there be charges for driving without valid insurance?

Some B.C. residents think that they are saving money by purchasing out of province insurance from Alberta or other provinces, however if they are involved in a vehicle collision, it could cost them everything. Be sure that insurance companies will be doing an investigation especially when the collision happens in another province and should any information indicate that an Alberta(or any other province) vehicle owner residing in B.C. falsely misrepresented themselves when vehicle insurance was obtained, the policy will be canceled faster than the blink of an eye.

If the insurance company consults with the police and confirms that the vehicle was not insured at the time of a collision, the police can charge the registered owner with a no insurance violation. It is the law that if a person resides in B.C. for a period of 30 days or more, the registered owner of a motor vehicle must register and insure the vehicle in B.C. There are a few exceptions for full time students and Armed Forces personal. Visit www.icbc.com for further insurance information.

Registration of foreign motor (out of province) vehicles and trailers
Section 21 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act indicates that the owner of a motor vehicle or trailer
(a) that is duly registered outside British Columbia,
(b) for which the licensing requirements of the jurisdiction in which it is registered are fulfilled, and
(c) that has displayed on it the registration number plates of that jurisdiction for the current year
is exempt from the requirements to register and license the motor vehicle or trailer under this Act, if
(d) the owner or operator of the motor vehicle or trailer is in British Columbia for, and uses the motor vehicle or trailer for, touring purposes only, for a period of 6 months, or
(e) the owner or operator of the motor vehicle or trailer is in British Columbia for, and uses the motor vehicle or trailer for, other than touring purposes, for a period of 30 days
from the date he or she began to operate the motor vehicle or trailer on a highway in British Columbia.
(7) A person commits an offense who
e) 30 days or more after entry into British Columbia of a motor vehicle or trailer that is required to be registered under subsection (2) but in respect of which notice has not been delivered in accordance with subsection (2), drives or operates the motor vehicle or trailer on a highway.

Constable R.A.(Richard) ASELTON
Central Okanagan Traffic Services - Media Liaison
Kelowna R.C.M.P. Detachment


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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

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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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