CASE LAW - R v Vershinin

BC Courts Coat of ArmsAdrian Vershinin was issued an Intersection Safety Camera ticket for speeding. He disputed the ticket and a trial was held in the North Vancouver provincial court before Administrative Judicial Justice Hayes. Mr. Vershinin argued that the image of the B.C. flag on the licence plate was too indistinct to allow the enforcement officer to determine that it was a B.C. licence plate.

The words "Province of British Columbia" were not visible in the certificate evidence tendered by the Crown.

image of bc licence plate

Justice Hayes decided as follows:

[13] The Certificate of Vehicle Ownership proves that the disputant has a license plate registered in their name which matches the licence plate found in Vehicle Image 4. The Crown relies on the enforcement officer’s interpretation that the “decal” in the image is that of the flag of the Province of British Columbia, thus proving the Crown’s case.

[14] The disputant argues that the image of the “decal’ is too indistinct to establish the jurisdiction and, having taken a view of the image, I must agree with the disputant in this regard and will enter an acquittal.

Rules for the proper display of BC licence plates.

There are lots of vehicles out there with license plate holders (often from car dealerships) that hide information on the top or bottom.

Next thing you know, everybody with a red light camera ticket will be fighting it on the same basis.

In reply to by CompetentDrivingBC

Proactive policing of obstructed plates wouldn't hurt.

I carried tools with me and the driver was offered the opportunity to remedy the problem on the spot rather than get a ticket.

In reply to by DriveSmartBC

If I'm understanding the current technology correctly, then cops all over BC are able to identify license plates via cameras and artificial intelligence, and the system will alert them if there's a vehicle to check out.

But is this being applied effectively? We don't have to display expiry dates on our license plates any more - but does that mean that an uninsured vehicle will be recognized and ticketed?

And does this license plate recognition include identifying where information is obscured, and ticketing for that?

In fact, it makes you wonder how many traffic tickets are being issued - if any - on the basis of information recorded passively by cop cars?

It's been a while since I wrote about ALPR.

ALPR does recognize expired plates/insurance.

However, like this case, plates that are defaced, damaged or obscured need the ALPR operator to recognize that and deal with it. ALPR only works for properly identified BC licence plates.

Is it being used effectively? Who knows? Try to get a straight answer from government for anything like this...

If ALPR identifies an uninsured vehicle on the street, the police should be obligated to issue a ticket.

After all, they're supposed to be working with ICBC on traffic issues, isn't that the case? And in this instance, ICBC is both the insurer and the licensing authority. There is no excuse for the police to disregard this, even if they're on another call and have to return to the issue later.

The officer assesses the situation at the roadside and decides what to write and not to write.

First, the ticket has to be appropriate to the offence committed.

Second, the evidence must be there to support a conviction.

Third, the officer must be confortable with the decision to write.

The third part is where the "people" part of the decision comes in and sometimes you just can't win.

No Insurance is a $598 ticket. I wrote one 5 days after the expiry once and was reasonably confident that the owner knew of the expiry. No insurance has a reverse onus, once a prima facie case is established, the onus shifts to the accused to prove that they were insured.

The ticket was disputed and the accused started a sob story when asked to plead. The JP stopped the proceeding and asked if I could talk to the accused and work something out. (Read: I don't want to convict. Remember who is in charge here and that you come here often.)  We went out, discussed a guilty plea to No Vehicle Licence, a $109 ticket instead and went back in. The JP accepted the plea and set the fine at $1.00.

It's definitely not a black & white decision.

In reply to by DriveSmartBC

In the case of an uninsured car being identified, even if the RCMP officer with the ALPR system doesn't have the time to follow it up, surely they could set up a system which would send the information to the local bylaws authority (municipalities typically have their own regulations along similar lines to the MVA & Regs) so they could deal with the issue.

It would make a refreshing change from their constant monitoring of parking meters, at least ... 

That's why the police officer has ALPR, to find and prosecute things like uninsured drivers. That's their job.

I suspect that rarely, if ever, do bylaw officers enforce the Motor Vehicle Act. 

 There's the rub, obscured plates. Many ways to look at it, still the plate is not entirely visible. Obscured by towed contrivance, bumper hanging racks, tail gates down, and my favourite, a plate on sideways, usually a motorcycle, which have dinky plates to boot. (I think there is an Asian language that reads down rather than across, but I cannot) So the frustration is this: if there is an infraction by such an individual with an obscured plate, does anybody care? I spend a lot of time on my bicycle and see many oddities, some dangerous ones. Get the plate rather than get angry? At times it isn't possible, so the infractor gets a free pass.

In reply to by Fitcat


True and oddly the cycling community (of which I claim membership) is one of the most frequent offenders. I have yet to see a rear mounted bike rack that does not cover the license plate and yet they do not by design accommodate mounting of a plate in a conspicuous place. Shame on you Thule and others for placing your customers in violation of the MVA and subject to penalty.