Q & A - Insurance on Forest Service Roads

Q&A ImageQ: My friend was riding his dirt bike along with his kids last weekend on a Forest Service Road which is an extension of a rural road. An RCMP constable stopped him and and informed him that he was riding without insurance and issued him a violation ticket under Section 24(3)(b) MVA which carries a $598.00 fine.

However, my friend believed that a gravel forest service road is a private road and not considered a public highway so he only had insurance for riding off road.

The member told him that he was getting a break because he could have charged him with other MVA offences.

I would appreciate your advice concerning whether an FSR is considered a public highway as defined under the MVA which will determine whether the my friend will pay or dispute this ticket.

A: I had a look at the area spoken of (in confidence until this matter is resolved) and can see the sign posted by the provincial government advising of the beginning of a Forest Service Road. That makes the determination of whether it is an FSR or not simple. Otherwise, there is a definition in the Forest Act:

"forest service road" means a road on Crown land that

(a) is declared a forest service road under section 115 (5),

(b) is constructed or maintained by the minister under section 121,

(c) was a forest service road under this definition as it was immediately before the coming into force of this paragraph, or

(d) meets prescribed requirements;

Under the Forest Service Road Use Regulation, some provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act apply to the use of FSRs, but section 24(3)(b) is not one of them.

There is a requirement to carry liability insurance for a motor vehicle used on an FSR:

Liability insurance

12 (1) A person must not operate or cause to be operated a motor vehicle or trailer, other than a motor vehicle or trailer described by section 2 (5) of the Motor Vehicle Act, on a forest service road unless

(a) the driver, motor vehicle and trailer are insured under a valid and subsisting contract of accident insurance providing insurance against liability to third parties in the amount of at least $200 000, and

(b) the driver carries written evidence, supplied by the insurer, of the insurance referred to in paragraph (a), or a copy of that written evidence, and produces it, on demand, to a peace officer or an official.

(2) Motor vehicles operated by the government that are subject to a government self-indemnification plan are exempt from the requirements of subsection (1).

From your description, it appears that the friend had a policy required by section 12, so he would have been properly insured for riding on the FSR. If he did not, the proper offence would have been against section 12 of the Forest Service Road Use Regulation.

At this point, it appears that there are two possibilities: dispute the ticket or approach the constable or constable's supervisor about having the ticket withdrawn. (If more than 30 days have passed since the ticket was issued, the constable is not able to withdraw it by writing to ICBC's Ticket Unit, but is able to withdraw it prior to trial if a dispute is entered.)

More information from the Province of BC about the Off Road Vehicle Framework.

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