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Tickets for expired vehicle registrations spike in Alberta

Tickets for expired vehicle registrations on the rise in Alberta
WATCH ABOVE: The number of Albertans receiving tickets for expired vehicle registration has jumped dramatically since the province stopped mailing reminders to drivers to renew it. Julia Wong reports.

The number of Albertans receiving tickets for expired vehicle registration has jumped dramatically since the province stopped mailing reminders to drivers to renew it.

READ MORE: No more snail mail: Alberta switching to digital registration, licence renewal reminders

The province discontinued mail reminders in April 2016, saying mail was outdated and unnecessary. Instead, drivers can now sign up to receive email reminders.

Numbers provided to Global News by Alberta Justice show that number of drivers receiving tickets has been relatively steady the last few years.

But for the 2016 to 2017 fiscal year, which runs from April 1 to March 31, there is an approximately 40 per cent jump in tickets issued. So far, in the 2017 to 2018 fiscal year, 22,023 tickets have been given out; at this rate, the number of tickets handed out this fiscal year will outstrip the previous one.

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RELATED: Alberta drivers forget to renew licence, vehicle registrations after government change

Kyle Erickson, 32, of Sherwood Park was driving around the city last week when he was pulled over by police.

“They just pulled me over by Sherwood Park Mall and they said, ‘You don’t have any registration,’” he explained.

“Immediately I checked to see if I did have registration because I can’t remember if I had it or not.”

Erickson’s registration had in fact expired in August; he said he had forgotten to renew it because he did not receive a reminder in the mail.

“I’ve never missed paying my registration before. I’ve never been late or anything like that,” he said.

“I was disappointed. I knew it was my own fault. It was just human error. I just forgot to do it.”

He received a fine for $310, an amount he does not agree with.

“It’s not like somebody is doing an actual offence on the road where they’re speeding,” he said.

“It’s almost four times the amount the registration is, which is a lot of money.”

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Steve Cutting, vice president of the Alberta Registry Agents Association, said that same scene is playing out in his registry in west Edmonton.

“If you look on the roads, you’re going to see them when you drive around. When people get those tickets, they get in here and they’re pretty mad,” he said.

LISTEN: Newstalk 770’s Rob Breakenridge takes calls on this issue

Cutting suggests signing up for email reminders, which will alert drivers about the need to renew their vehicle registration the month it is set to expire.

“Your expiry month is going to be the same every year, unless you change your last name, because it is dependent on the first letter of your last name,” he said.

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Global News reached out to Service Alberta Minister Stephanie McLean about the increase of tickets.

“There have been dips and spikes in traffic tickets over the years, and we cannot attribute them to any one factor,” McLean said in a statement.

The statement also said the switch to electronic reminders saves Alberta taxpayers $3 million every year.

Based on the numbers obtained by Global News, the fines collected in the fiscal year after mail reminders were phased out were more than $15 million.

Have a story you think should be investigated? Email julia.wong@globalnews.ca