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How to Avoid a Fine for Obstructed License Plates in Saskatchewan

Imagine driving down the road, enjoying the beautiful scenery, when suddenly you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror. You pull over, confused about what you could have done wrong. To your surprise, the police officer informs you that your license plates are obstructed and issues you a fine. It’s an unfortunate situation that many drivers in Saskatchewan have found themselves in. In this article, we will explore the rules and regulations regarding license plates in Saskatchewan and the fines that can be imposed if the view of them is obstructed. So, let’s dive in and ensure that you never have to face such a situation.


The Rules and Regulations in Saskatchewan

License plates play a crucial role in identifying vehicles and their owners. They serve as a unique identifier that allows law enforcement agencies to track down individuals involved in criminal activities, accidents, or other traffic violations. It’s essential for license plates to be clearly visible and legible at all times to ensure the safety and security of everyone on the road.

In Saskatchewan, the rules regarding license plates are clearly defined. According to the Traffic Safety Act, driving a vehicle with license plates that are not visible or legible is an offence. The act specifies that license plates should not be obstructed by any object, such as dirt, snow, or debris, that hinders their visibility.


Fines and Penalties

Failure to adhere to the regulations concerning license plates can lead to fines and penalties. The province has implemented fines for various offences related to license plates. 

According to a 2019 article from CBC, Tyler McMurchy, the spokesperson for SGI, emphasizes that it is the responsibility of drivers to ensure their license plates are clearly visible.

Driving a vehicle with obscured or illegible license plates carries a $100 fine,” he states. “Instead of taking a risk, drivers should ensure their plate is clean and easily readable.

The fine for purposefully having reflectors covering your license plates to defeat red light or speed camera detective will likely result in a $150 fine.  Former Police Chief Marlo Pritchard of Weyburn reflected in a 2019 article from Discover Weyburn.

It is an offence to have obstructed license plates that cannot be read by speed cameras or red light cameras,” he explained. “The plates must be free from debris and should not be covered with reflective material meant to evade detection by red light cameras or speed cameras.

Police Discretion

It’s worth mentioning that police officers have the discretion to issue warnings or tickets depending on the circumstances. While some officers may issue warnings for minor obstructions, others may choose to impose fines immediately. It’s crucial to understand that even if you receive a warning, it’s in your best interest to rectify the obstruction promptly to avoid any further penalties.

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Keeping Your License Plates Clean and Visible

  • Regular Maintenance: Make it a habit to clean your license plates regularly. This includes removing any dirt, snow, or debris that may accumulate on them. A quick wipe with a cloth or brush can go a long way in ensuring their visibility.
  • Clearing Snow: During the winter months, snow buildup on your vehicle is inevitable. However, it’s crucial to clear any snow that may obstruct your license plates. Use a snowbrush or scraper to remove snow from the plates and maintain their visibility.
  • Avoid Obstructive Accessories: While it may be tempting to add decorative frames or covers to your license plates, it’s important to ensure that they don’t obstruct the view. Avoid using frames or covers that cover any part of the license plate and impede readability.


Replacing Weathered License Plates (Peeling Plates)

When license plates older than 10 years, start to show signs of peeling on the sheeting and lettering, it’s important to return them to an issuing office. At the office, customers are entitled to receive a replacement free of charge.

  • If a customer prefers to retain the same license plate number, they can request a reprint of their plate, which does incur a $20 reprint fee.
  • For plates younger than 10 years that show signs of weathering and need replacement, a $15 admin fee will apply.


The Consequences of Obstructed License Plates

Obstructed license plates can have several consequences beyond fines and penalties. Let’s explore some of the potential issues you may face if your license plates are not clearly visible:

  • Increased Police Attention: Vehicles with obstructed license plates tend to attract more attention from law enforcement. This increased attention can lead to more frequent stops and inquiries, causing unnecessary delays and inconvenience.
  • Difficulty in Identifying Your Vehicle: In the unfortunate event of a hit-and-run accident or other criminal activities involving your vehicle, obstructed license plates can make it challenging for witnesses or surveillance cameras to identify your vehicle. 

License plates are an essential component of vehicle identification, and it’s crucial to ensure their visibility at all times. Obstructed license plates can result in fines, increased police attention, and difficulties in identifying your vehicle. Remember, a few minutes of maintenance can save you from unnecessary fines and complications down the road. Stay vigilant, keep your license plates clean, and drive safely.

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