04/10/2014 12:52 EDT | Updated 04/10/2014 12:59 EDT

Chinese Drivers' Licences Questioned By Richmond RCMP

Thousands of Chinese drivers in Richmond may be using illegal licences from China, says RCMP in the Vancouver suburb.

The force says it can't verify if the Chinese licences are valid because there's no agreement with China that allows the RCMP access to such information, reported the Richmond News.

For the past few years, Richmond RCMP have been fining drivers with Chinese licences $276 and towing their vehicle, said the newspaper.

Unknowing tourists and residents are shocked to be pulled over and penalized for the infraction, reports 24 Hrs Vancouver.

However, ICBC says it's acceptable for a visitor to use a licence issued by another country, including China, for up to six months. If someone is moving to B.C. permanently, that documentation is valid for 90 days before a provincial licence is required.

“An official driver’s licence, issued by the People’s Republic of China or any other country, is also acceptable for any full-time student in B.C. studying at a recognized institution,” ICBC spokesman Adam Grossman told 24 Hrs Vancouver.

Vancouver police also accept licences issued by China, as long as a driver also has a translation document from ICBC, reported News 1130.

Drivers with licences from countries including India and Indonesia are also affected, said the radio station.

The conflicting guidelines have led Chinese drivers to dispute their fines in court, but justices of the peace have always ruled in favour of the police, said the Richmond News.

The increasing number of fines has led the Richmond RCMP to ask ICBC for help, because drivers are being pulled over “more than once a day," Cpl. Stephanie Ashton told 24 Hrs.

Foreign drivers in B.C. can get an international driver's permit issued in their home countries — but China is not one of the countries that participates in the program.

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