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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. R.C. – Surrey Provincial Court

Charge: Criminal Harassment; Breach of a recognizance.
Issue: Whether it was appropriate to resolve this domestic harassment by ending the criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade Crown counsel to stay the criminal charges upon. our client entering into a Peace Bond for a period of 12 months. No criminal record.

R. vs. R.N. – RCMP Investigation

Charge: Possession of child pornography.
Issue: Whether police would be able to prove that our client was the only person that had access to the IP address on which the unlawful material was downloaded.
Result: Mr. Mines provided information to the police investigator that led the investigator to close the file with no charges recommended against our client. No jail. No criminal record.

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

Charges: Assault; Uttering Threats.
Issue: Whether it was appropriate for the court to enter a conviction.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to steer our client through a course of rehabilitation and was able to persuade Crown counsel and the Court to grant our client a conditional discharge.  No criminal conviction.

R. vs. T. F. – Surrey Provincial Court

Charge: Breach of Probation (no contact).
Issue: Whether the Crown could prove that our client intended to breach the "no contact" order that he was subject to.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel that our client bumped into the complainant accidentally. Crown counsel entered a stay of proceedings, bringing the matter to an end. No criminal record.

R. vs. T.X. – Insurance Fraud Investigation.

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issue: In light of the rehabilitative steps our client completed, whether there was a public interest in proceeding with this child discipline/assault case.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to rely on the extraordinary circumstances of the case and our client's commitment to ongoing family counselling. He was able to persuade Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings. No criminal record.

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

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issue: In light of the rehabilitative steps our client completed, whether there was a public interest in proceeding with this child discipline/assault case.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to rely on the extraordinary circumstances of the case and our client's commitment to ongoing family counselling. He was able to persuade Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings. No criminal record.

R. vs. S.L. – ICBC Investigation

Charges: Failing to remain at the scene of an accident.
Issue: Whether our client was obligated to provide a possibly incriminating  statement to the adjuster that could have led to criminal charges and a loss of  insurance coverage.
Result:  Mr. Mines was able to provide the required information to ICBC on our client's behalf. No charges were  recommended. No loss of insurance coverage.

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

Charge: Sexual Assault.
Issue: The credibility and reliability of the complainant and  our client who both testified in this historic sexual assault case.
Result: After  9 hours of deliberations, the jury was deadlocked and could not reach an unanimous decision. No conviction. The trial judge remitted the matter back to court to set a new trial.

R. vs. S.M.A. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Dangerous Driving Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of a criminal conviction and whether it was in the public interest to proceed with a criminal charge.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown counsel to proceed under the Motor Vehicle Act rather than the Criminal Code. After gearing Mr. Johnson's submissions, the Court sentenced our client to a $100 fine and a 3 year driving prohibition. No criminal record. No jail.

R. vs. S.G. – Coquitlam RCMP Investigation

Charge: Theft Under $5000 (shoplifting).
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with a criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade the investigating RCMP member to not forward criminal charges after we settled the matter civilly on our client's behalf. No criminal record.

R. v. J.D. – 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 continue with the criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr.Johnson was able to persuade Crown counsel to refer our client to the Alternative Measures Program and to enter a stay of proceedings. No criminal record.  

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.

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.