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Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (I.R.P.s)

The Charge

While drivers in British Columbia do continue to be investigated and prosecuted for impaired driving or “driving over .08” under the Criminal Code, these days the majority of BC drivers are processed under the Immediate Roadside Prohibition (I.R.P.) provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act.  In most cases, absent aggravating factors such as an accident, the presence of a child in the vehicle, symptoms of extreme intoxication or the allegation of other criminal acts, rather than proceeding with criminal charges, police will issue an immediate roadside driving prohibition for 90 days to those drivers who fail or refuse a roadside breathalyzer test.

While not a “criminal charge,” the effects of a 90-day immediate roadside prohibition can be devastating. Not being able to drive for 3 months can cause serious problems, especially for those who rely on their vehicle for employment. In addition to the driving prohibition, police will impound the vehicle for 30 days. The prohibited driver must pay a $500 fine plus the towing and 30-day storage costs. Once the 90-day prohibition is up, the driver must enroll in the Responsible Drivers Program (at a cost of approximately $1,000) and pay a $250 licence re-instatement fee. Many drivers, upon assessment, must pay for an install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle at a cost of approximately $1,500 per year. Additionally, ICBC will assess the Driver Risk Premium of at least $370 per year for at least 3 years.

The Investigation

The threshold for a police officer to demand a roadside breath sample is very low. The officer need not develop grounds to believe a driver is intoxicated; all the officer must do is suspect that the driver has some alcohol in their body. This suspicion can arise from as little as an admission of recent drinking, the observation of alcoholic beverage containers in the vehicle, or the smell of alcohol coming from the driver. The Motor Vehicle Act sets out that a driver must comply with a “lawful” breath demand, as set out by s. 254 of the Criminal Code. Where police obtain a “fail” result, they must inform the driver of their right to take a second test, using a second roadside breath testing device. The driver is entitled to the benefit of the lowest reading of the two tests. In the event that a driver refuses or fails a roadside screening test, police will tow the driver’s vehicle forthwith and will serve the driver with Notice of the Immediate Roadside Prohibition.

Recent Successes

R. vs. C.L. – Civil Fraud Investigation

Charge: Fraud/Theft from employer.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with criminal charges.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to negotiate repayment on our client's behalf and obtained a civil release from the employer. No charges were forwarded to Crown counsel. No criminal record.

R. vs. L.M. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Assault with a weapon; assault causing bodily harm.
Issue: Given elements of provocation, a potential defence of self-defence, and our client's background as a vulnerable woman, whether it was in the public interest for Crown to continue the criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings upon our client succesfully completing the Alternative Measures Program. No criminal record.

R. vs. B.L. – New Westminster Supreme Court (jury).

Charges: Assault with a weapon; assault causing bodily harm.
Issue: Given elements of provocation, a potential defence of self-defence, and our client's background as a vulnerable woman, whether it was in the public interest for Crown to continue the criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings upon our client successfully completing the Alternative Measures Program. No criminal record.

R. vs. D.D. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Fraud Over $5000; Theft Over $5000 (from employer).
Issues: Whether Crown counsel could prove the full amount of the alleged theft and whether our client would be sentenced to jail in this breach of trust case.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel that they could only prove a $49,000 theft rather than the $75,000 allegation. After hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the Court sentenced our client to an 18 month conditional sentence order. No jail.

R. vs. W.W. – North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault causing bodily harm.
Issue: Given the information Mr. Gauthier provided to Crown counsel, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the criminal prosecution.
Result: Crown stayed the proceedings upon our client entering into the Alternative Measures Program. No criminal record.

R. vs. H.K. – Burnaby RCMP Investigation.

Charges: Mischief Under $5000.
Issue: Given the information Mr. Gauthier was able to provide to the RCMP investigator, whether it was in the public interest for police to forward charges to Crown counsel.
Result: Based on the significant collateral consequences that a criminal prosecution would bring to our client, Mr. Gauthier  persuaded police to not forward any criminal charge whatsoever.

R. vs. H.S. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault causing bodily harm.
Issue: Given the information Mr. Gauthier provided to Crown counsel, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the criminal prosecution.
Result: Crown stayed the proceedings upon our client entering into the Alternative Measures Program. No criminal record.

R. vs. K.J. – ICBC Fraud Investigation

Charges: Insurance (ICBC) Fraud.
Issue: Whether charges would be forwarded to Crown counsel.
Result: Mr. Gauthier  intervened with the ICBC investigator on our client's behalf and was able to clarify and explain the information that ICBC had flagged as being possibly fraudulent. The matter was resolved with no charges being forwarded to Crown counsel. No prosecution; no criminal record.

R. vs. M.H. – Employee Fraud Investigation

Charges: Theft from Employer.
Issue: Whether the complainant would proceed with a criminal complaint when they discovered $65,000 in fraudulent transactions purportedly committed by our client.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to successfully negotiate a civil settlement on our client's behalf. No police investigation; no charges; no criminal record.

R. vs. A.C. – Richmond Provincial Court

Charge: Assault.
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our client through, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings upon our client completing the Alternative Measures Program. No criminal Record.

R. vs. N.A. – Vancouver Traffic Court

Charges: Speeding (MVA).
Issue: Whether the police officer could prove that our client was speeding, and whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the trial.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to provide information to the police investigator that led to the officer withdrawing the violation ticket prior to the trial. The lack of this conviction prevented our client from a significant driving prohibition.

R. vs. K.B. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Aggravated assault; assault with a weapon.,br> Issue: Given the information Mr. Johnson was able to provide to Crown counsel, whether it was appropriate to contnue with the prosecution on the approved charges.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown counsel to proceed on the lesser charge of assault causing bodily harm. After hearing Mr. Johnson's submissions on our client's behalf, the trail judge sentenced our client to a suspended sentence with 24 months probation. Our client was able to avoid a lengthy jail sentence.

The Defence

The defence of an immediate roadside prohibition starts with filing an Application for Review. This application must be made at an ICBC RoadSafetyBC driver’s services centre within 7 days of being served with the I.R.P. When filing for a review, there is an application fee of $100 for a written review or $200 for an oral review. The burden of proof in a review hearing is on the applicant. When we are retained to represent drivers for IRP reviews, we will focus on the specific grounds of review that we have identified as being the most relevant to the case. The only grounds that the adjudicator will consider include:

  • That you were not the driver, or were not in care or control of the vehicle;
  • That you were not advised of your right to a second breathalyzer test;
  • That you requested a second test but the officer did not permit it;
  • That the second test was not performed on a second breathalyzer;
  • That the results of the breath test was not reliable – this is generally argued on the basis of breathalyzer calibration and testing records;
  • That you did not refuse or fail to comply with a lawful breath demand; or
  • That you had a reasonable excuse for refusing or failing to comply with a demand.

As stated, a driver has only seven days to file an application for review. We can help you prepare for your application for a review of your I.R.P. Once the application has been submitted, RoadSafetyBC will provide a copy of the officer’s Police Report to the Superintendent. This report is the “road map” to your case. We will analyze the issues outlined in the report along with your explanations of what happened. In this way, we will be able to provide you with our opinion as to your chances of success on the review. Our goal is to help keep you driving!

Start with a free consultation.

If you are being investigated by police or if you’ve been charged with a criminal or driving offence, don’t face the problem alone. Being accused of an offence is stressful. The prospects of a criminal record or jail sentence can be daunting. Even if you think there is no defence, we may be able to help. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our Vancouver lawyers, contact us now.