Fact Check

Canadian Police Ticketing Motorists for Parking Their Cars with the Windows Down?

Are Canadian police ticketing motorists for parking their cars with the windows down?

Published Jul 13, 2014

Claim:   Canadian police are ticketing motorists for parking their cars with the windows down.


Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, June 2014]

This was posted on Facebook and I was wondering how true it is?

If you're driving through Canada, you ought to know that it's illegal to park with your windows down. Police there can and will ticket and fine you for it.


Origins:   Section 191 of the Motor Vehicle Act for the Canadian province of British Columbia states:

Leaving parked vehicle

(1) A motor vehicle must be equipped with a lock or other device to prevent the unauthorized use of the motor vehicle.

(2) A driver must not permit a motor vehicle to stand unattended or parked unless the driver has:

    (a) locked it or made it secure in a manner that prevents its unauthorized use, and
    (b) if the motor vehicle is standing on a grade, turned the front wheels of the vehicle to the curb or side of the highway.

This means that motorists in British Columbia must ensure that their cars have working locks, and that when they park their vehicles, those vehicles must be secured (i.e., not left with windows rolled down, doors unlocked, keys in the ignition). Failure to comply with this section of the Motor Vehicle Act is a ticketable offense, as a Nanaimo, British Columbia, woman found out in September 2012 when she parked her car at work with the front windows rolled down and received a visit from an RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) officer:

Tara Hill was surprised to hear that a police officer was looking for her and the reason why, she couldn't believe. She was getting a ticket for parking her car and leaving her windows rolled down.

"Your motor vehicle is unsecured. I thought what? Is someone playing a joke on me?" says Hill.

The officer was serious, she violated a motor vehicle act and Hill was getting a $81 ticket. Nanaimo RCMP's Gary O'Brien says it's the officer's discretion to issue a ticket.

"Section 192 [sic] of the Motor Vehicle Act states that a vehicle has to be secured when a vehicle is parked. That means the windows rolled down, keys in the ignition or doors unlocked, says O'Brien.

Does this mean that all motorists (domestic and foreign) driving in Canada must be sure to roll their car windows up when parking or risk a ticket and a fine of $81 or more? Not exactly. The cited law is specific to the province of British Columbia (although some other Canadian provinces may have similar laws), the woman referenced in the story was actually issued a warning rather than a fine, and the case was unusual enough that it was reported on CTV News:

(Also, the law states that a parked car must be "secure in a manner that prevents its unauthorized use," so one might make the case that a car with rolled-down windows should still be considered within the bounds of the law as long as the keys or other devices required to start it are not left in or about the vehicle.)

Nonetheless, it's not completely outside the realm of possibility that one could be ticketed for this offense while driving in British Columbia, so motorists should be aware of the law.

Last updated:   13 July 2014

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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