Licence Suspension and Denial: Overview of a New Mechanism for Child Support Enforcement

APPENDIX B:
A SUMMARY OF PROVINCIAL AND TERRITORIAL LICENCE RESTRICTION LEGISLATION

The source of this information is the Child Support Team, Department of Justice Canada.

ALBERTA

MAINTENANCE ENFORCEMENT ACT, C.M-05, IN EFFECT JULY 1, 1994

Default trigger
The Director of the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) may notify the registrar of motor vehicles as soon as default exists (section 16.1(2)).
Process: notices, time frames
When the support order is first registered with the MEP, all support payors are sent a letter explaining all the enforcement actions available. It is the general practice, when an account is in arrears and the residential address of the payor is known, to send a warning letter advising that motor vehicle services will be withheld unless satisfactory payment arrangements are made. If there is no response within 30 days, all motor vehicle services are withheld.
Notices to third parties
None
Actions
Denial of all services by the registrar of motor vehicles: no renewal, no issuance, no registration of vehicle, etc.

All services relating to motor vehicle administration are denied, including abstract of records (e.g., accident reports), transfer and registration. The system does not 'cancel' the existing licence. However, a replacement licence will be withheld if the original is lost or stolen.

Insurance and registration implications
Insurance is unaffected.

Registration of vehicles is withheld.

Duration of licence and registration
Licence: five years

Registration: one year

System interface
The MEP system is electronically connected to the motor vehicle system, which is connected to all the privately operated motor vehicle registry offices in Alberta, so that the MEP can withhold or reinstate motor vehicles immediately.
Delegation of power by Director
Managers and supervisors have the authority.
Comments
If the debtor makes satisfactory payment arrangements, the debtor is allowed access to motor vehicle privileges on an annual basis, in order to permit the MEP to monitor payments. If all arrears are paid, full motor services are reinstated.

The MLA Review of Child Support Enforcement recommended, and the government of Alberta has accepted, amending the provisions to allow for a full suspension of drivers' licences upon default.


BRITISH COLUMBIA

FAMILY MAINTENANCE ENFORCEMENT ACT, C.127, IN EFFECT NOVEMBER 1, 1998

Default trigger
The enforcement action will be taken, in practice, when administrative enforcement does not work and if the payor does not pay the arrears or contact the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) to work out a plan, and the payor owes more than $3,000.
Process: notices, time frames

Section 29.1 states:

A letter is sent by regular mail. If the payor does not respond, the MEP faxes the instruction to hold the driver's licence to ICBC, which confirms by fax.

Notices to third parties
None
Actions

The effect of the denial is to

  • (a) refuse to issue a first-time licence and

  • (b) to refuse to renew an existing licence until notified by the Director.

The implementation of (a) was to be reviewed early in 1999; the implementation of (b) began November 1, 1998.

Insurance and registration implications
There is no effect on registration and insurance, which is attached to the vehicle, not the driver, but insurance is affected if the vehicle is in an accident and the driver has no valid licence.
Duration of licence and registration
Licence: five years
System interface
All via fax.
Delegation of power by Director
 
Other

Section 29.2 states that the Director must direct ICBC to disregard the notice if the debtor satisfies the Director that

  • (a) denial is based on a material error;
  • (b) lack of a driver's licence will significantly reduce the debtor's ability to pay the order; or
  • (c) the debtor has entered into payment arrangements satisfactory to the FMEP.

MANITOBA

FAMILY MAINTENANCE ACT, CF20, IN EFFECT DECEMBER 31, 1995

Default trigger
Immediate upon default, but the decision is based greatly on the payment history. If the payor has been complying for a long time but is in temporary difficulty, for example, other arrangements may be made.
Process: notices, time frames
Section 59.1

A letter may be personally served or sent by registered mail to the debtor. If a plan was negotiated and not complied with, a second notice gives two weeks for compliance, unless the plan was complied with for 12 months before the default, in which case the process starts at the beginning with the 30 days notice.

Notices to third parties
Recipient: has access to the information

Insurance: notified

Employer: not notified

Actions
Revokes existing licence, no renewal, no issuance and no registration of vehicle. If, after the first notice, no arrangements are made, the MEP sends the necessary forms and court documents to the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA), which contacts the debtor by form letter to inform of the licence denial. The legislation cancels the existing licence, but does not ask for its return. The licence renewal is denied. Licences are renewed annually on the driver's birthday, but the licence is printed six to eight weeks ahead of time. If printed, it will be sent to the debtor. Therefore, the timing of the suspension process is important. On the other hand, the system also includes denial of registration, which is also annual, but is done four months after the driver's birthday. It is therefore possible to catch debtors who may have slipped through at the driver's licence stage of the process. There is no appeal process at the MVA.
Insurance and registration implications
Registration: revoked

The pro rata of the unused fee is refunded if the registration is cancelled/revoked. The MEP is looking at the possibility of garnisheeing this money.

Insurance: notified

Duration of licence and registration
Licence: one year, renewal on birthday

Registration: one year

System interface
Manual system because of incompatibility between the computer systems of the MEP and the MVA. MEP has on-line access to drivers' licence numbers and other information required to complete the forms.
Delegation of power by Director
Support caseworkers
Comments
No conditional licences.

Names of suspended drivers may be provided to the police.

The vast majority of debtors make arrangements after the first notice is sent. Only a very small percentage results in actual licence denial.


NOVA SCOTIA

MAINTENANCE ENFORCEMENT ACT, 1994-94, C.6, S.1, IN EFFECT JANUARY 1, 1996

Default trigger
Immediate upon default. On the enforcement continuum, a driving privilege revocation is at the higher end of enforcement actions.
Process: notices, time frames

Section 30 states

The registry of motor vehicles then sends a letter to the payor.

Notices to third parties
Recipient: if a domestic violence flag on the file, the recipient is sent a letter to inform him or her of the action.

Insurance: not notified

Employer: not notified

Actions
The existing licence is revoked, also no renewal, no issuance, no registration of a vehicle. Other licences or permits under MVA are revoked, not issued or not renewed. The existing licence is cancelled because it is renewable only every five years (return of the licence is not requested), and all further services are denied.
Insurance and registration implications
Insurance: not affected

Registration: revoked

Duration of licence and registration
Licence: five years

Registration: two years for passenger vehicle, truck, handicapped; one year for motorcycle, off highway vehicle, trailers, personal plates.

System interface
Actual request to suspend/revoke is done in hard copy; the information from the Registry of Motor Vehicles is electronic.
Delegation of power by Director
Director has signing power after the officer makes the initial decision, which must then be approved by the supervisor and then by the Director.
Comments

Section 30 (3): a conditional licence is possible for employment purposes only.


ONTARIO

FAMILY RESPONSIBILITY AND SUPPORT ARREARS ENFORCEMENT ACT, 1996, C.31, IN EFFECT SEPTEMBER 29, 1997

Default trigger
Immediately upon default. Usually, this measure is commenced only after less aggressive enforcement methods have been unsuccessful.
Process: notices, time frames
Section 34 states that the first notice to go to the payor of the driver's licence suspension unless within 30 days:
  • (a) payor makes satisfactory arrangements with the Director for the ongoing support obligation and arrears;
  • (b) payor obtains, in a variation proceeding, an order to refrain the Director from suspending the driver's licence, under s. 35(1) and files the order in the Family Responsibility Office; or
  • (c) payor pays all arrears.

s.36(2) Upon payor breaching payment arrangement, Refraining Order, or varied Order made subsequent to Refraining Order, within 24 months of same, Director can serve Second Notice on payor of driver's licence suspension unless within 15 days:

  • (a) payor brings payment arrangement, Refraining Order or subsequent varied Order into compliance, or
  • (b) payor pays all arrears.

s.37 Director may direct the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to suspend a driver's licence if none of the options set out in sections 34 or 36 are exercised by payor to prevent suspension.

s.38 Director shall direct Registrar to reinstate driver's licence if:

  • (a) payor pays all arrears;
  • (b) payor brings payment arrangement into compliance;
  • (c) payor complies with support order and any orders under ss.35 or 41;
  • (d) payor enters into payment arrangement with the Director for complying with the support order; or
  • (e) support order is withdrawn from enforcement by the Family Responsibility Office under s.16.

s.35 Only one Refraining Order can be granted in respect of a First Notice, and it must be obtained within 30-day time limit set out in First Notice. A Refraining Order terminates when the variation proceeding is determined, the Support Order is withdrawn from enforcement, or six months from the day it is made, whichever occurs first.

s.35 A motion for a Refraining Order is to be made within a variation proceeding, but can be brought before the commencement of the variation upon undertaking to commence the proceeding forthwith. If no variation proceeding is commenced within 20 days of the Refraining Order, the Refraining Order automatically terminates.

s.35 Before the Refraining Order terminates, it can be extended by the Court for one further period of three months.

s.38(2) If the Director directs reinstatement of the driver's licence and payor again fails to comply with the payment arrangement, Refraining Order or subsequent varied Order within 24 months, the Director may proceed to act in accordance with the last notice sent to the payor.

Notices to third parties
None
Actions
Revoke existing licences, no renewal, and no issuance. The actual licence is revoked, but the payor is not requested to return the licence.
Insurance and registration implications
Insurance: none

Registration: none

Duration of licence and registration
Licence: five years
System interface
All is done electronically.
Delegation of power by Director
The authority to initiate the first notice is delegated to enforcement officers (s. 3).
Comments

Section 35: when determining a variation proceeding subsequent to the making of a Refraining Order, the court may make an order respecting payment of arrears and may include provision for the imprisonment of the payor for a maximum of 90 days upon default of payment.


PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

MAINTENANCE ENFORCEMENT ACT, C.M-1 AM 1996, C.27, S. 3

Default trigger
In the legislation, immediately upon default. In practice, the action is taken as a final resort.
Process: notices, time frames
There is one notice, by registered mail, to make arrangements within the time specified by the Director: 10 days (s. 12.1).
Notices to third parties
Recipient: only if the recipient requests the information

Insurance: not notified

Employer: not notified

Actions
s.12.1(2) Suspend or revoke existing licence, registration, privilege of obtaining a licence, the right to operate a vehicle in the province or any other licence, registration of vehicle or any permit issued under Highway Traffic Act.

s.12.1(3) no renewal.

No request for return of actual licence.

Insurance and registration implications
Insurance: no

Registration: suspended/revoked

Duration of licence and registration
 
System interface
Done by fax, but the MEP plans to go to an automated system.
Delegation of power by Director

None, Director retains the power.


SASKATCHEWAN

ENFORCEMENT OF MAINTENANCE ORDERS ACT, E-9, 21, IN EFFECT DECEMBER 1996

Default trigger
Failure to pay for not less than three months. Case officer makes the decision to initiate the process; in most cases, the action is a last resort.
Process: notices, time frames
s.31.7 Director may direct the administrator to suspend a respondent's licence when
  • (a)payor in arrears for at least three months,
  • (b) the Director is of the opinion that all reasonable steps to enforce the order have been taken,
  • (c) notice was served of the intention to suspend licence, and
  • (d) no arrangements were made within 15 or 30 days (depending on the service process) by the payor.

31.8(2) When the Director directs the administrator to suspend a respondent's licence, the administrator shall immediately suspend that licence and the respondent's ability to secure a licence until notification by the Director that the suspension may be cancelled.

The first notice is sent by regular mail. The payor has 30 days to contact the MEP and arrange for payment. If the payor does not make contact, a second notice is sent by personal service or registered mail that gives a final 15 days to make arrangements. The sending of the second notice must be approved by two supervisors. If the payor is evading service, process can be completed without it (affidavit of evasion of service).

Notices to third parties
Recipient: notified by regular mail

Insurance: public insurance scheme notified

Employer: in some cases, if it is known the licence is used for work (taxi drivers, truck drivers, real estate agents).

Actions
No renewal, no issuance, no registration or insurance of vehicle.

After all time limits have expired, the MEP notifies SGI (Saskatchewan Government Insurance) to not issue a new licence or not renew a licence. The registration and insurance are also denied. The timing is important because if it is not done before the licence is sent out, the MEP must wait for the next renewal.

Insurance and registration implications
Registration: no renewal, issuance, etc.

Insurance: cancelled (SGI is responsible for registration, licence denial, and insurance).

Duration of licence and registration
Licence: one year

Registration: one year

System interface
Manually, by fax
Delegation of power by Director
Case officer for the first notice. Two supervisors must approve the sending of the second notice.
Comments
s. 31.9 The court, on application, may order the administrator to cancel a suspension if satisfied that a person's health is or would be seriously threatened by the suspension.

As of September 1998: 1,433 first notices sent; 742 second notices. 536 licences denied. No information on reinstatements.


YUKON

MAINTENANCE AND CUSTODY ORDERS ENFORCEMENT ACT, C. 108, IN EFFECT OCTOBER 1, 1995

Default trigger
Immediately upon default, but in practice the action is a last resort.
Process: notices, time frames
s. 14.1 states that notice to comply or make arrangements within 60 days or any operator's licence, certificate of registration or permit under the Motor Vehicle Act may be suspended or cancelled not issued or not renewed.

Only one notice is sent by certified mail to make arrangements within 60 days. If no contact, the Motor Vehicle Department is informed.

Notices to third parties
Recipient: if requested

Insurance: not notified

Employer: not notified

Actions
Existing licence is suspended, no renewal, no issuance, and no registration of vehicle. The Motor Vehicle Department notifies the debtor that the licence and registration have been cancelled and that no further licence or registration will be issued until the Director of the MEP notifies the department.
Insurance and registration implications
Insurance: none

Registration: cancelled

Duration of licence and registration
System interface
Manually, by fax.
Delegation of power by Director
Director has reserved power.
Comments

s. 14.1(3) If the Director is satisfied that the respondent requires an operator's licence for employment purposes, the Director may ask the registrar to issue a conditional licence which may have restricted hours of operation.

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