Can a Ticket For Failing to Have a Permit Sticker on a Registration Card Be Won?

Changes to the Highway Traffic Act Altered the Requirement to Have a Valid Permit Sticker Placed Upon Both the Vehicle Licence Plate and Validation Card. Only the Vehicle Licence Plate Must Now Display a Valid Sticker.
A Helpful Guide to Understanding the Change in Law Requiring a Validation Sticker Only Upon the Vehicle Licence Plate

Officer Writing a Highway Traffic Act Violation Certificate

A few years ago, the law changed regarding the vehicle registration sticker requirements; whereas in the past, the registration sticker for the licence plate, as well as the permit card, required affixing.  Accordingly, it was common practice and habit for people to affix a permit sticker upon the licence plate (back plate for cars, front plate for trucks) and to affix a secondary permit sticker upon the registration document.  Today, only the the registration sticker for the respective licence plate is required whereas affixing the permit sticker to the actual vehicle registration document is now optional.

Despite the change occurring around 2012, it is possible that police officers remain unaware of the change and may charge drivers with an offence for failure to affix stickers to both the respective licence plate as well as to the licence permit card.

The Law

The actual mandate to affix the validation sticker comes from the Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O.  1990, c.  H.8, which says:

7 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway unless,

(a) there exists a currently validated permit for the vehicle;

(b) there are displayed on the vehicle, in the prescribed manner,

(i) number plates issued in accordance with the regulations showing the number of the permit issued for the vehicle, or

(ii) number plates described in subsection (7.2) if the vehicle is an historic vehicle and the Ministry has issued a currently validated permit for it; and

(c) evidence of the current validation of the permit is affixed, in the prescribed manner, to,

(i) one of the number plates mentioned in subclause (b) (i) displayed on the vehicle, or

(ii) to a mini-plate attached to the number plate exposed on the rear of the vehicle, if number plates described in subsection (7.2) are displayed on the vehicle.

However, s.  7(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, is silent as to how the validation stickers should be affixed and is especially unclear about what to do with the validation sticker that is received for affixing to the vehicle registration card.  This direction comes from the Regulations and the required clarity is provided by the case of R.  v. Isik, 2014 ONCJ 161 where it is said:

[23]      S.  7 (1) (a) of the Highway Traffic Act reads as follows: “No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway unless displayed on the vehicle, in the prescribed manner, (a) there exists a currently validated permit for the vehicle; (b) there are displayed in the vehicle, in the prescribed manner, (i) number plates issued in accordance with the regulations showing the number of the permit issued for the vehicle … (c) evidence of the current validation of the permit is affixed, in the prescribed manner, to (i)one of the number plates mentioned in sub clause (b) (i) displayed on the vehicle …

[24]      This section of the HTA needs to be read together with Ontario Regulation 628 (Vehicle Permits), s.  6(2):  “Evidence of validation for a permit shall be affixed to a number plate for the vehicle in accordance with this Regulation, and the portion of the evidence of validation not intended for the number plate may be affixed in the appropriate space provided on the permit for the vehicle.  [O.  Reg.  119/12 s.  s.  1]”

[25]      There is evidence before this Court that there was a validation permit affixed to the number plate of the vehicle the defendant was operating.  According to s.  6(2) of the above-noted Regulation, that is mandatory.  With respect to affixing the validation not intended for the plate on the permit, appears to be discretionary.  (A quick review of this section of the Ontario Regulation shows this to be the case from 2012.  Prior to 2012 the section of the Regulation addressing the validation of the permit, then s.  6, read:  A permit for a motor vehicle shall be validated by means of evidence of validation provided by the Ministry and affixed in the appropriate space provided on the permit.)

[26]      The above leads the Court to conclude that the charge against Mr.  Isik “Drive motor vehicle no validated permit” does not succeed.  According to s.  6(2) of the Regulation governing permits makes the affixing of the currently permit on the plate mandatory (“shall”) but discretionary on the ownership (“may”).  This in effect renders the charge “Drive motor vehicle without a validated permit invalid and consequently the Court must dismiss the charge.

Summary Comment

Effective 2012, a validation sticker is required only upon a licence plate and is without a requirement to attach a sticker to the vehicle registration card.

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