Anyone who defaults on fines for tobacco-related offences involving a vehicle in Nova Scotia will not be able to renew their driver’s licence or vehicle permit.

The province is amending its Revenue Act to clarify language and allow the courts to impose stiffer fines.

Service Nova Scotia Minister Ramona Jennex says they want to send a clear message to would-be smugglers that they will pay a heavy price if caught.

Of the $3.9 million in tobacco fines levelled last year, the government is writing off $1 million it expects not to be repaid. Department staff say that 25 per cent ratio of non-payment has been the average over recent years.

Staff hope the new rules will make it harder for people to dodge repaying the province.

Loophole shut

The new legislation also eliminates a loophole where one man managed to get a lighter punishment two years ago by successfully arguing he shouldn’t be convicted of possession of illegal tobacco because he sold it before his arrest.

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