Foreign driver's licences now accepted by RCMP

Foreign drivers who don't have an international driving permit, can now avoid a ticket in B.C. communities patrolled by the RCMP, so long as the remedy isn't lost in translation.

Earlier this week, B.C. Mounties and the Insurance Corporation of B.C. reached an agreement, whereby foreign driver licences will be accepted when a vehicle is pulled over, so long as the driver carries a translation of that document, RCMP Cpl. Rob McDonald told The Richmond Review.

He recalls pulling somebody over, and that person handing over a licence that was in Russian.

"I don't read Russian. Is it a library card? What tells me it's a driver's licence?"

In the past, drivers pulled over in Richmond who didn't have an international driving permit faced a $276 fine as well as the prospect of having their vehicle towed, since police can't allow a driver to leave unless they have a driver's licence.

Since the issue was raised by Richmond Mounties a couple of weeks ago, after they raised concerns it was a daily occurrence for a driver to be pulled over with a proper licence, the provincial insurer and B.C. Mounties have held talks to come up with a system that addresses police concerns.

If a foreign driver can't get an international driving permit—as regulated by the United Nations, with most foreign nations signing on as members to the 1968 driving agreement—they must get their document translated by an ICBC-approved firm. China, India and Indonesia are among the countries that haven't signed the UN agreement.

McDonald said police officers need to know with a high degree of certainty that a driver's licence is valid, and permits the driver to drive the type of vehicle he or she is pulled over in.

International students must also show they are a full-time student at an accredited institution in B.C.


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