If you’re like most Albertans, you probably think of yourself as a pretty good to excellent driver. You watch your speed, try not to roll through stop signs, drive cautiously through school zones and always yield to pedestrians at a crosswalk.
But Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act is filled with lesser known violations like not ensuring your moped reflector is visible from 100 meters away at night ($115 fine) or not having proper insurance on the contents of a mobile home when transporting it down the highway ($230 fine, lots of broken dishes).
We’ve put together a list of the more common traffic violations that you may not be aware of. And with some Alberta traffic fines having increased by 35% in 2015, making sure you cover your tail lights can save you on costly fines and demerits.
1. Driving With Expired Registration And Licence Plates
Forgetting to renew your vehicle registration is a small mistake that could cost you a big ticket. If police see you driving without the current stickers on your plate, you could face a fine and some major inconvenience. Let AMA do the remembering for you with our Vehicle Registration Auto-Renew service.
2. Driving Without Proper Insurance Coverage
All motor vehicles registered in Alberta must be insured before they hit the road. Failing to provide proof of insurance is a serious offence, one that could cost you a mandatory court appearance and a hefty fine. When you check the renewal date on your auto insurance policy, why not review your policy to make sure you have what you need (and aren’t paying for extras you don’t). Always carry your current proof of insurance in your wallet or purse and make sure you shred the old one – you could be fined for keeping the expired pink card in your vehicle.
3. Speeding Past Emergency Vehicles With Lights Flashing
As our AMA Roadside Assistance team will tell you, not everyone seems to understand the law about slowing down as you pass emergency vehicles working at the side of the road. It’s pretty simple actually – if the lights are flashing, all vehicles in the adjacent lane must slow to 60 km/h or lower. Even if you’re a lane over, be alert and prepare to slow down to give tow trucks room to work. Speeding fines are doubled when passing emergency vehicles, so at highway speed you’re looking at a fine and demerits.
4. Supervising a GDL (Class 7 Learner’s Licence) Driver
When little Billy or Sally got their learner’s permit you thought your work was done. But did you know that Class 7 GDL drivers need supervision from a fully-licensed, non-GDL driver over the age of 18 sitting in the front passenger seat? You could be fined for failing to properly supervise a Class 7 GDL driver, so use that time to help them grow into responsible, confident motorists. Also, both Class 5 and Class 7 GDL drivers must have a zero alcohol level and can’t drive with more passengers in the vehicle than seatbelts.
5. Driving With an Expired Licence (or Somebody Else’s)
Okay – this one seems obvious. But you’d be surprised how many drivers get pulled over with the wrong licence in their wallet. Never borrow a friend’s identification or keep multiple licences in your wallet. Alberta Class 5 driver licences last for five years, so check the expiry date (your birthday) and make a mental note to renew it early. Depending on your age or class of licence, you may need to renew annually. Driving with an expired licence will cost you.
6. Driving Under the Influence of Medications
Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death in Canada. By now, we’re sure you’ve heard the message to plan ahead for a safe ride home if you’re drinking or taking recreational drugs. But the side-effects of prescription medication can also lead to an impaired driving charge. Even for a first offence impaired driving charge it’s an immediate 3-day vehicle seizure and a suspended licence until your court date. Depending on the individual, the penalty could result in fines, court fees, and increased insurance premiums. And that’s nothing compared to the lifetime of trauma should the unthinkable happen.