One of the most common questions I am asked by clients who are given tickets is how long the ticket will remain on their driving record. Most people do not understand the significant penalties that can come from getting a ticket, and how long-lasting the consequences actually are.
The length of time that a ticket will stay on your driving record in British Columbia may surprise you. But there is a silver lining. This blog post explains everything you need to know about how long a ticket will stay on your record in British Columbia.
All tickets that you receive in British Columbia stay on your driving record forever. But that does not mean that the ticket will necessarily follow you forever.
The critical issue in determining the answer to this question is finding out what driving record you are asking about. People are often unaware of the fact that there are a few different variations of their driving record.
Your Driver’s Abstract
A lot of people are under the impression that a ticket only remains on their record for five years. While this is not quite accurate, what they are usually thinking of is the driver’s abstract. An abstract is a snapshot of the last five years of your driving history.
To obtain your driver’s abstract, you can make a request to ICBC who can print it out for you. Alternatively, you can order a copy online here. You’ll note that ICBC does not assist with the confusion between a driver’s abstract and a driving record, as they use the term interchangeably on their website even though they are only providing the abstract.
Abstracts are typically used where an employer requests a driving history. If you are worried about a ticket on your record for the purpose of employment or volunteering, then your abstract is likely the driving record that you need to keep in mind.
Your Driving Record
Your driving record is your entire driving history. It includes any and all traffic tickets and driving prohibitions you have received, including any that you may have obtained before you even had a license.
Every driver in BC is assigned a “driver file.” This means that if you are not licensed in British Columbia, you still have a driver file, showing any tickets you received in British Columbia. If you ultimately obtain a BC license, your driver file will be reflected on your driving record as the driver file is linked to your driver’s license number.
Your driving record is forever.
Even if a ticket no longer appears on your abstract after five years, it continues to be reflected on your driving record.
The driving record is most often used in court when a person is charged with a driving offence. This can include a traffic ticket matter, but also extends to a prosecution for a criminal driving offence, such as impaired driving or dangerous driving, and provincial driving offences like driving while prohibited, the disclosure package will often include a copy of the driving record.
If you are facing a traffic ticket or other driving charge and are worried about your history impacting you, then your driving record is what you should be most concerned about.
Your CPIC Record
CPIC is the Canadian Police Information Centre, and it contains a lot more information than simply a person’s criminal record. Many interactions with police can be recorded in CPIC, including traffic stops and ticket investigations.
I have had countless interactions with police officers in traffic court, who have run a client in CPIC to find out whether they have received other traffic tickets since the incident, which may be in dispute. These tickets, as they are in dispute, would not show on the driving record or driving abstract… but there is still a record of them.
A CPIC record is accessible not only by police officers and agencies in Canada, but also by border officials if you are crossing into another country and by Interpol agents. As CPIC tracks your interactions with police, there can sometimes be a record of a ticket even if you have successfully disputed it in court.
Because your traffic tickets can stay on your driving record, at least in some fashion, for a long time and can follow you in ways that you may not have even been aware, it is important to dispute any traffic ticket you receive.