More than 50,000 B.C. residents will have difficulty renewing their drivers licences this year, due to measures announced by the Insurance Company of B.C. (ICBC).

Residents will first need to pay their unpaid tolls for the Port Mann Bridge and the Golden Ears Bridge, Translink debts, and even unpaid spousal or child support collected by the province’s Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP).

Once their debts are paid, drivers will be able to renew their licences. Even debts as little as $25, in arrears for more than 90 days will have the blocks applied to licence renewals.

The breakdown in residents blocked from renewing due to debts is comprised of:

  • 75.8% of people who have not paid their tolls on the Port Mann or Golden Ears Bridges.
  • 16.8% of people who are more than $3,000 behind in their child support or spousal support payments in the FMEP system.
  • 7.4% of people who have not paid their Translink tickets.  Translink is Metro Vancouver’s public transit authority.

The B.C. FMEP website states:  “…we have the authority to take certain actions to make sure the person who is supposed to pay maintenance (called the payor) makes his or her maintenance payments in full and on time.”

In cases relating to unpaid child or spousal support, the “driver’s licence withholding” does not happen automatically, and does not take place in every case of arrears. First, FMEP attempts to collect the maintenance or work out a reasonable payment plan.

Victoria Family lawyer Michael Butterfield points out “that many people owe money through FMEP who could have their payments or arrears reduced. They just don’t go through the process”.

Varying support orders is complicated but Butterfield said “Most people can do this on their own with the help of a paralegal to prepare the forms. This can cost a fraction of what it would cost to hire a lawyer.”

The driver who may be affected is notified before the withhold goes in place.

Withholding of a driver’s licence can seriously affect one’s employment, and possibly their ability to pay support.


Jayne Embree, M.A.

Jayne holds a Masters in Psychology and is a highly experienced Divorce Coach and Child Specialist. Currently on sabbatical, Jayne is conducting research in the area of family dynamics and parental conflict.

 Areas of Practice: Family law including separation, divorce, mediation, arbitration, child & spousal support, support variations, guardianship, parenting time, access, property division and more. Victoria BC