Chinese drivers ticketed in Richmond licence dispute
ICBC says driver’s licences from China are valid for a period of time, but RCMP beg to differ. (QMI AGENCY FILE PHOTO)
A disagreement over the validity of Chinese driver’s licences has led to daily headaches for Richmond Mounties who are ticketing and sometimes towing immigrants who don’t realize they’re not legally allowed to be behind the wheel.
ICBC and the RCMP don’t agree on what licences are allowed in the province, leaving drivers who have been told they can drive shocked when the police tell them they can’t.
ICBC said it tells immigrant drivers from China that they have up to three months to upgrade to a local licence after moving here and their licences are good for up to six months as tourists.
Adam Grossman of ICBC also said students don’t need the licence at all.
“An official driver’s licence, issued by the People’s Republic of China or any other country, is also acceptable for any full-time student in B.C. studying at a recognized institution,” said Grossman.
He referenced B.C. driving regulations to support his argument.
But Cpl. Stephanie Ashton of the RCMP said that’s not the case.
“That only applies to countries that are recognized under the UN conventions of international driving regulations,” Ashton said. “There’s a number of countries that can’t legally drive here without obtaining a B.C. licence.”
According to Ashton, drivers are being pulled over “more than once a day” and warned or ticketed for not having what the RCMP consider to be a valid licence.
Since officers cannot let them drive after being pulled over, if there isn’t a passenger in the car with a valid licence, they must call a cab.
Ashton also said officers need to be able to look at a licence and determine it is valid and an actual licence, which is difficult if it’s in a language the officer doesn’t understand.
She said that could lead to tickets being thrown out of court.