The Motor Vehicle Act of British Columbia has recently been amended to give previously unknown powers to the Police. The Police have the power to provide any driver an Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) or an Administrative Driving Prohibition (ADP) in situations prescribed by the Motor Vehicle Act.

The Police have the power to provide any driver an Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) or an Administrative Driving Prohibition (ADP) in situations prescribed by the Motor Vehicle Act. The Police retain the power to charge drivers with Criminal Code offences of Impaired Driving, Blowing over 0.08, Refusal to Blow, or other Criminal Code related motor vehicle offences. However, the practice now principally for the convenience to the Police they are suspending drivers licence for 90 days when they conclude the driver is allegedly over .08 or refuses to blow into a breathalyser or an approved screening device.

The police are able to use these administrative alternatives to formal charges under the Criminal Code by serving paperwork on the driver and by providing a fill in the blank report to the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles. Unless the driver takes steps to challenge the the driving prohibition by filing the appropriate paper work with the Superintendent Motor Vehicles within 7 days of receipt of the documentation from the police, the driver is prohibited from driving for 90 days.

The difference between an IRP and an ADP is that as their names suggest an IRP is an immediate driving prohibition whereas the ADP starts 21 days following the service of the formal Notice of Driving Prohibition. In both cases you only have 7 days to challenge the 90 day prohibition.

There are only certain ways set out in the legislation to challenge these administrative prohibitions. If you wish to challenge these prohibitions a non refundable fee is charged by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles to register your challenge and give you a copy of your report (the disclosure).

You can request to contest your prohibition by way of a written submission or an oral hearing. If the oral hearing is requested it is by phone. The adjudication is done by an employee of the Department of Motor Vehicles (not a judge or other independent official). I describe the process to clients that these reviews are like appearing in a “Kangaroo court”. The statistics which are available on the ICBC/Motor Vehicle web site shows that about 84% of the reviews are dismissed.

If you are given an ADP or IRP you should call us immediately as something must be done within 7 days or your right to challenge the process is over. It is always my recommendation to request an oral hearing, pay the administrative fee and you will the disclosure prepared by the police to support the prohibition. No lawyer can properly advice you on your chance of success without first getting a copy of the report filed by the Police.

Once a decision is made by the adjudicator there are no appeals provided by the legislation, but there is a process of applying for a Judicial Review to the BC Supreme Court. The decision not to provide an appeal route was a deliberate decision by the Provincial Legislature. Judicial Review of an unsuccessful challenge of an IRP or ADP is a very expensive legal undertaking. There is no guarantee if Judicial Review occurs that you will be able to get your drivers licence back while going through that process. An interlocutory (interim) application to get your licence back to a Supreme Court Judge in Chambers in required and an affidavit is required to confirm that you will suffer irreparable harm if you do not get your licence back in the mean time while your Judicial review is waiting to be heard.

A challenge of an IRP or ADP starts with a careful review of the report prepared by the Police. You have to make a decision as a rational consumer of legal services if the legal costs and disbursements of the challenge makes sense to you. In addition, if you decide to conduct a Judicial Review it is considered a civil case and if you loose, the costs of the Respondent could be ordered to be paid by you. A lawyer in a civil case such as this is duty bound to warn you of the possibility of paying court costs if you loose your Judicial Review.

If you do not challenge IRP or ADP and win the Superintendent will require that you pay and complete a Driver Improvement Course and then you will not be able to drive for one year a vehicle except one in which you have placed an intoxillizer. The intoxillizer has to be installed in your car and checked regularly to see if there are any fails. All of this takes time and money. Both programs cost in excess of $3,000.00.

If you receive one of these prohibitions contact a lawyer immediately and then inform yourself of your options. The best advice I can give is not to have a drink and drive. I acknowledge that advice may be a little late if you are reading this. Peter Firestone