Newly arrived in Yellowknife? Make sure you change your mailing address. Y’know, just in case someone wants to fine you.
Randi Beers forgot to do that when she moved to the NWT. She also forgot about her fine for riding a bike without a bell, in Toronto, five years ago.
A collection agency politely reminded her by phone this January.
Since picking up the fine in 2010, the money she owed had grown from $110 to $185, demerit points had been applied to her driver’s licence, and that licence had been suspended.
Writing in Toronto’s NOW magazine, Beers – who works for Yellowknife’s Northern News Services – says she learned that until recently, court administrators could only contact people by post.
NOW magazine: My bike bell ticket from hell
Without the correct address, nobody could reach her to inform her that, having forgotten about the fine, she had been convicted in her absence in 2011 and the fine was growing.
When she contacted the court system in Ontario, Beers wrote, a man “said I owed $185, and if I intended to do anything other than pay the fine, I’d have to show up at the court services office in person”.
She added: “I told him I’d never received notice to appear in court in 2011 and now live in the Northwest Territories.
“He made it clear that I’d have to make the 5,000-kilometre trip to Toronto if I wanted to rectify this misunderstanding.”
Beers has paid the fine. If you think you might get away with yours, you should apparently think again.
In her article, Beers says Ontario administrators confessed to her that they are still actively pursuing people whose unpaid fines date back the 1970s.