Leniency for not displaying decal when actually insured? (sticker missing)


I got a ticket from the city of North Vancouver for not displaying current insurance decal. My vehicle was insured at the time. I think someone must have taken the sticker and I obviously failed to notice. I have the paperwork to prove I was actually insured, I was curious if I would get leniency in this circumstance. I don't have the bylaw on me, I can get it if it helps however I'm not disputing the fact I wasn't displaying the decal. I was wrong according to the wording of the ticket, but before I pay to dispute it I was curious if anyone has experienced something similar.


Fail to display current plates

Good news and bad.

I think if you check, you'll find that you didn't receive a N Van bylaw ticket, in fact I'm not sure if "Failing to Display" is an offence under N Van's Street and Traffic Bylaw.

The bad news, it is illegal under the Motor Vehicle Act of BC.

Here's the law (From the MVA of BC)

Sec 13 (1) A person commits an offence if the person drives, operates, parks or is in charge of a motor vehicle or trailer on a highway.


(b) without displaying on it, in the manner prescribed, the number plates issued or designated by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia or otherwise prescribed to be displayed on the motor vehicle or trailer for the current license year of that motor vehicle or trailer, or

As you can read it is not for not displaying an insurance decal.  The decal, in effect makes the number plates of the vehicle legal and current.

There are several charges if you hadn't re-insured your vehicle.

  • Fail to register your vehicle
  • Drive without insurance
  • Fail to produce insurance
  • Fail to display current number plates

At least you had the insurance, because that's the costly one, the fine and especially if you were in an accident.

While it isn't impossible to removed a validation decal, it's near impossible to do so without leaving a trace.  It's always a good practice to stick the decal on the plate the minute you get the insurance, that way you won't forget and or lose the decal.

If you can attend court with evidence that the decal was removed (ie, little pieces still affixed or remnants of the adhesive) you'd have a stong case.  Without that, likely the JP will doubt it was stolen and likely you forgot to put it on.

If you are intent on fighting the ticket, I be prepared to ask the person who issued the ticket, I gather it was a Bylaw officer, (if you choose not to tender the plate as evidence) the condition of the plate, was there a buildup of decals (that makes it easier to steal a decal).  You might be able to create some doubt that you forgot and the decal was stolen.

All Motor Vehicle Act charges are "strict liability" offences meaning there is no intent required for the accused to be found guilty.

Bylaws & Fines ... my guesses.

It sounds like you've already sourced the City of North Vancouver Bylaws, if not then there's information here.

City of N.V. just love writing bylaws (that's why it's a Nuclear Free Zone, so a good thing they didn't notice the Atomic Bomb hidden in your trunk), so to my mind your best defense would rest on whether this is even within their purview; requirements for vehicle insurance, and applicable penalties, are already covered in the Provincial Motor Vehicle Act & Regulations.  But maybe that's why they snuck in their own separate bylaw about having the sticker displayed.

It may also be viable for you to instead argue the amount of the fine they wish to levy, based on the fact that this wasn't negligence on your part - you had obtained the ICBC coverage, and displayed your sticker - but on theft of the same, unbeknownst to you.  Where were those bylaw officers when this was happening, you may well ask (not that it will do you any good, probably).  Thing is, you're a victim of other's malfeasance.

So it would be worth researching this a bit, to determine whether it's worth your while to take it to court before an impartial judge.  And part of that research should definitely include communicating directly with City Hall to ask about your options; in my experience, the counter staff in that department are knowledgeable and helpful when approached reasonably.

There's no doubt in my mind that the Bylaws Officers working for the City of NV lack perspective, perhaps because they are rewarded for the quantity, rather than the quality, of their tickets.  This may sound like a strong and biased statement, but it's based on experience. 

In my work as a Driver Evaluator, I've conducted driver assessments for the City of NV, the District of NV, the Municipality of WV, and the City of Richmond; individuals who have worked for the City of NV and other municipalites as Bylaw Officers have told me some interesting stories.  And the sight of some City of NV Bylaw officer stopping dead in the middle of a moving traffic lane - even with available non-disruptive spaces to place his/her vehicle - in order to get out and write up a ticket on someone who has been more than an hour in a parking space is commonplace.  Yet for some reason, vehicles parked too close to back lane entrances, creating a dangerous - and illegal - sight impairment for pedestrians and motorists rarely seem to get noticed.  I mention this only because it seems possible that the local JP may be a bit tired of cheap shots on the part of these people, and inclined toward leniency on your fine.

Best of luck!

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