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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. T.A. – West Shore RCMP investigation

Charge: Sexual Assault (reduced to common assault.)
Issue: Whether Crown counsel could prove that our client touched the complainant for a sexual purpose.
Result: Mr. Mines was able tp persuade Crown counsel that our client did not intend to touch the complainant in a sexual manner. The Crown agreed to proceed on the lesser charge of common assault and, after hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the Judge granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction. No jail. No sex offender registry.

R. vs. J.S. – Surrey Provincial Court

Charge: Sexual Assault (reduced to common assault.)
Issue: Whether Crown counsel could prove that our client touched the complainant for a sexual purpose.
Result: Mr. Mines was able tp persuade Crown counsel that our client did not intend to touch the complainant in a sexual manner. The Crown agreed to proceed on the lesser charge of common assault and, after hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the Judge granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction. No jail. No sex offender registry.

R. vs. N.R. – Sechelt Provincial Court

Charge: Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Whether it was in the pubic interest for our client to be sentenced to a conditional discharge for this offence which resulted in a serious facial cut to the complainant.

R. vs. S.K. – Surrey Provincial Court

Charges: Assault; Assault with a Weapon, Breach of a Release Order.
Issue: Whether our client could be released on bail given Crown's concerns for his willingness to attend court and potential to commit further offences.
Result: Mr. Johnston was able to persuade the Judge to release our client on the least onerous conditions.

R. vs. O.C. – Richmond RCMP Investigation

Charges: Theft (from Employer)) Investigation.
Issue: Whether the evidence was capable of reaching Crown counsel's charge approval standard.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to provide information to the police investigator who, ultimately, elected not to request that any charges be approved. No criminal prosecution. No criminal

R. vs. C. E. – Courtenay Provincial Court

Charge: Driving While Prohibited.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the prohibited driving charge which carries a mandatory minimum one year driving prohibition.
Result: Mr. Johnston was able to persuade Crown counsel to proceed with the lesser offence of  driving without a valid licence. Our client was sentenced to a driving prohibition of only one month.

R. v. S.C. – Vancouver Police Investigation

Charge: Assault.
Issue: Whether there was credible evidence that would meet the charge approval standard.
Result: Mr. Gauthier provided information to the investigating officer that led the investigator to conclude that our client was not chargeable with a criminal offence. No charge approved. No criminal record.

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

Charges: Assault; Forcible Confinement (domestic).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our through, whether it was in the public interest for our client to be sentenced to a criminal record.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade Crown to proceed only on the assault charge and, after hearing Mr. Gauthier's submissions, the Court granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.

R.M. vs. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles

Charge: 90 Day Immediate Roadside prohibition.
Issue: Whether the police report established, on balance, that our client had refused to provide a breath sample during a roadside impaired driving investigation.
Result: The adjudicator agreed with Mr. Mines' submissions that our client's evidence was more reliable than the evidence set out in the Police Report to the Superintendent. The 90 day driving prohibition was overturned and our client was ruled eligible to resume driving.

R. vs. E.W. – Fort Nelson Provincial Court

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of a criminal conviction.
Result: Upon reviewing the allegations, Mr. Mines made representations to Crown counsel resulting in Crown agreeing that there was no reasonable prospect of convicting our client. No charges were approved. No criminal record.

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

Charges: Assault Peace Officer; Mischief Under $5000.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with criminal charges.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to  persuade Crown counsel to allow our client into the Alternative Measures Program and to enter a stay of proceedings on both charges upon our client completing the program. No criminal record.

R. vs. R.S. – Richmond Provincial Court

Charge: Breach of Probation (from weapons charge).
Issue: Whether there was a public interest in proceeding with the prosecution of our client who had failed to complete a course of court ordered counselling.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to steer our client through an equivalent course of counselling. Upon completion, Crown counsel stayed the proceedings. 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.