Manotick resident Maureen McArthur was shocked when she opened a registered letter to find not one, but two tickets for the same offence.
She’s on the hook for two $494 fines from the MRC des Collines Police because her car registration wasn’t up to date. One ticket was dated March 9 when she was downhill skiing at Camp Fortune and the other was dated March 11 when she was hiking in Gatineau Park from the P17 parking lot.
“I had to sign for the letter. I thought I was getting a package,” McArthur said.
McArthur said that it was “remiss on my part” that her vehicle registration went out of date in May 2021 and she hadn’t yet registered. She said that she registered her car soon after getting the tickets and intends on disputing one of the tickets in court.
“She knew her plates were expired and decided to drive. People have a responsibility,” MRC des Collines Sgt. Martin Fournel said in response. “Driving is not a right, it’s a privilege.”
He said there is no grace period for improperly registered cars like the 72-hour period drivers have to fix a broken tail light after getting pulled over. When an officer runs a license plate through the system to see if it’s out of date, they can see if other fellow officers have also checked that plate recently. It’s up to each officer to issue a ticket or not, Fournel explained.
He added that the police department issues tickets, but the MRC des Collines municipal court sends them.
“Obviously the court decided to mail the tickets in the same envelope,” Fournel said.
The MRC des Collines municipal court declined the Low Down’s request for a comment.
On March 13, a new law went into effect in Ontario that eliminated license plate renewal fees and the need for registration stickers on Ontario plates. McArthur said that she also got a new license plate without registration stickers when she renewed her registration in March.
The MRC des Collines Police have regularly made local and regional headlines for cruising parking lots of tourist hotspots like Camp Fortune, Gatineau Park or Spa Nordik and issuing fines to Ontario drivers with expired plates. Fournel said this won’t change with the elimination of Ontario license plate stickers.
“Our officers are going to wherever there are people,” he said, adding that police are allowed to patrol on private property when it’s open to the public.
As for getting dinged twice for the same offence, Fournel said that he’s heard of similar situations to McArthur’s.
“This has happened before where two tickets were issued the same day on a parked vehicle and one ticket was [later] cancelled [by the MRC municipal court],” he said.
But Fournel said he’s never heard of someone getting two tickets for the same offence in the same envelope.
“People should be glad — it saves trees, envelopes and paper,” he joked.
But McArthur isn’t laughing.
“Isn’t that pathetic,” she said when asked for her reaction when she saw the tickets. “They have nothing else to do?”
McArthur said it could take up to three months to get a court hearing to fight the ticket.