Vehicle Impoundment as a Penalty

Tow TruckThe use of vehicle impoundment as part of an array of penalties to discourage improper driving behaviour will expand significantly when amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act become law on September 20, 2010. In every case the cost of the impoundment will be the responsibility of the owner of the vehicle. If the owner was not the driver at the time, they may recover costs from the driver as a debt in any court of competent jurisdiction.

In the case of an impaired driver with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) over 80 mg% or who refuses to provide a breath sample, there will be a 24 hour vehicle impound if the driver is proceeded against under the Criminal Code. The impoundment period rises to 30 days if the officer decides to proceed using the Immediate Roadside Prohibition provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act instead. This new process will be the subject of future columns.

Drivers whose BAC falls between 50 and 80 mg% currently receive a 24 hour impoundment with their 24 hour prohibition. This will become a 3 day impoundment for a first instance, a 7 day impoundment for a second instance, and a 30 day impoundment for any subsequent instance that occurs within a 5 year period.

Unlicensed, suspended and prohibited drivers will see their impoundment periods drop from 30 days to 7 days. The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles can escalate the length of the impoundment if the behaviour is repeated.

Finally, a new collection of bad driving behaviours will be subject to vehicle impoundment. Excessive speed, stunting, racing or operating a motorcycle without a proper license, while not seated properly or while not following license restrictions will bring an immediate 7 day impoundment. Again, the Superintendent may choose to escalate the impoundment period for repeat offenders. (These motorcycle provisions will come into effect at a later date to be determined by the legislature.)

Reference Link:


Sept. 2, 2010
Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
VICTORIA – As many drivers prepare to hit the road for the last long weekend of the summer, the B.C. government is urging drivers to use caution and warning B.C.’s worst speeders that effective Monday, Sept. 20, new impoundment rules come into effect for those travelling 40 km or more over the posted speed limit, Solicitor General Mike de Jong said today.
“Excessive speed is often a death sentence for everyone involved – the driver, their passengers and other innocent road-users,” said de Jong. “We want to save lives by going after the kind of driver who drives significantly and dangerously over the posted speed limit, and then get them off the road. By doing so, we hope to make our streets and highways safer for everyone.”
About 10,000 tickets are issued by police annually for excessive speeding. As of Sept. 20, a charge of excessive speeding will trigger a mandatory seven-day impoundment for a first offence, a 30-day impoundment for a second, and 60 days for subsequent excessive speeding offences within two years.
Impoundment is in addition to existing penalties, which include:
·                     A fine of $368 to $483, depending on how excessive the speed.
·                     Three penalty points on a driver’s licence.
·                     An ICBC driver-risk premium of $320 per year for three years, over and above Autoplan insurance premiums.
“What we know is that speed is the number-one contributing factor to fatalities in car accidents in the province,” said Cpl. Jamie Chung of Langley RCMP E Division Traffic Services. “The faster you go, the less likely you’ll walk away from a crash. Anything we can do to reduce speed in turn reduces the number of needless tragedies on our roads and highways.”
Street racers are also affected by the new rules. While street racing differs from excessive speeding because it involves two or more vehicles trying to outdistance each other, under the new impoundment provisions, both are subject to minimum seven-day impoundments.
Previously, street racing had a minimum impoundment period of 48 hours. Additionally, the Motor Vehicle Act now makes careless acts like excessive tailgating, and reckless driving actions like wheelies and doughnuts – subject to a seven-day impoundment.

The legislation defines racing (in one sense) as: "driving at excessive speed in order to arrive at or attempt to arrive at a given destination ahead of one or more other motor vehicles". Yet the government, according to its press release, wants the police to impound the vehicle of *anyone* driving 40 km/h or more above the speed limit, which I see as outrageous. There should be a Charter challenge to this new law, on the grounds that the police should not have the authority to confiscate private property from someone who has committed a public welfare offence until due process (a trial) occurs.

I assume you do not realize that most fatal or serious injure crashes involve speeding? How else does a vehicle end up going through several trees and taking out power poles? Is it too much to ask that someone does the speed limit? Are we in that much of a hurry? Consider this, the speed limit on the Island Hwy north of Parksville is 110km/h. So 40km/h over the speed limit is 150km/h. Do you know how long it take your vehicle to stop at this speed? Yes there are fences on the sides of the highway, however deer still wind up on the road, and hitting a deer is not like hitting a rabbit. What about the rain? there are problems with water and hydro planning on the road. If it is too much to ask to just slow down, perhaps you should think of turning in your license and start taking transit. Driving on a public road is a privilege not a right. It's a right to expect someone to drive safely and not put everyone out there at risk. 

We already have a motor vehicle act in place that can ticket and fine people for excessive speeding, unsafe lane changes, tailgating and so very many more, and dangerous. offences.  However there is not a day that goes by on my drive to or from work that I do not see not just one, but at least 10 seriously dangerous drivers.  Sometimes so extreme that I am already preparing for impact.  Still it goes on.

You can change as many laws as you want, increase fines and penalties 1,000 times what they currently are.  BUT if no one is out enforcing them it just another waste of time.