Q&A - Driver Suspensions for Causing a Collision

Q&A ImageQ: I would like some information regarding laws in Vancouver or other provinces in Canada that require a temporary suspension of one's license if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident where there is a fatality or serious injury.

My brother was killed in a motor vehicle accident. He was driving a motorcycle when a minivan drove into oncoming traffic to make a left hand turn. No charges were laid, and there was no fine, suspension, or any type of 'slap on the hand'. I would think that at the very least, a temporary suspension of one's license should occur as the survivor is inevitably in shock &/or traumatized by the accident. I consider it a "time out", which is necessary for the survivor's own mental health, and to keep a traumatized driver off of the roads temporarily. I also see it as some sort of repercussion for their actions that resulted in a death or critical injury of another citizen.

I am also curious whether there are any legal obligations to retake one's license or be required to take a defensive driver course following an accident where the other party was killed or seriously injured?

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I don't know about other provinces in Canada as I never did traffic enforcement outside of British Columbia.

I am almost certain that unless there is alcohol or some health or driving history involved, there is no action taken to prohibit a driver post crash or cause them to be re-examined for their fitness to drive. Of course, after the investigation is done and the matter is referred to the courts, a prohibition might follow as part of the penalty for a conviction of the driver for breaching any laws that led to the crash.

Unless the courts apply a significant penalty, I've often thought that our insurance system takes much of the sting out of causing a collision. Sure, you might lose your safe driving discount, but in proportion to what you might have caused, this can be a miniscule thing. The only time the burden becomes significant is when you are convicted of impaired driving in relation to the incident or there is some legal reason for ICBC to invalidate your insurance coverage. Then ICBC pays out and you must reimburse ICBC. Your ability to obtain a driver's licence can be removed while you have an outstanding debt and you could be prohibited from driving in BC.

Although the Criminal Code makes it an offence to drive while prohibited by a provincial authority, my current understanding of the law here in BC is that Crown Counsel will not approve such a charge. This means that drivers who are prohibited in other provinces that choose to continue to drive in BC are not subject to a criminal penalty.

You may wish to promote your suggestions with the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles and your MLA.

I'm puzzled.

Just reading this statement:

My brother was killed in a motor vehicle accident. He was driving a motorcycle when a minivan drove into oncoming traffic to make a left hand turn. No charges were laid, and there was no fine, suspension, or any type of 'slap on the hand'.

Did this occur in BC? It's hard to believe that a fatal collision could take place without the police being involved. Section 174 would normally be applied, here.

Yielding right of way on left turn

174  When a vehicle is in an intersection and its driver intends to turn left, the driver must yield the right of way to traffic approaching from the opposite direction that is in the intersection or so close as to constitute an immediate hazard, but having yielded and given a signal as required by sections 171 and 172, the driver may turn the vehicle to the left, and traffic approaching the intersection from the opposite direction must yield the right of way to the vehicle making the left turn.

In almost every collision involving a left-turning vehicle, ICBC will eagerly place the blame on the vehicle making the turn.

So is there some extenuating circumstance (such as the speed the motorcylist was traveling at, for instance) that hasn't been mentioned here?

Vehicle Manslaughter

Being a motorcycle rider, these stories always give me cause of grief.  So sorry and may your brother RIP.

When the system offers the MVA vs CRIMINAL Code, the easy way out will always prevail, ie:  MVA.  Crown is resistant to charge under the best of circumstances, never mind the challenge of killing someone due to 100% negligence.  Unless Crown has something of the magnitude of the Humbolt disaster, seems one life obliviated by negligence has little to no value.  The standard, “I didn’t see them” will always default to an insulting charge (if any) for the killing of another human due to negligence.  The system is inherently flawed to minimize responsibility and accountability isn’t even considered.  

Charge Assessment by Crown Counsel

You might find the charge assessment guidelines to be an interesting read.

How about 'ticket assessment guidelines' ?

Part and parcel of the problem is that these days, the cops are so reluctant to hand out traffic violation tickets; at one time, not too many years ago, virtually every reported collision would have resulted in a traffic ticket (with accompanying penalty points, along with the fine) being issued to at least one of the drivers.

Now we've apparently reached the point where the most severe of crashes isn't enough to motivate the police who subsequently attended to try and assign some sort of blame, and penalty.

I would imagine that ICBC are pretty disgusted with this state of affairs, quite frankly.

Any idea which jurisdiction this occurred in?

C a g

After reading the “charge assessment guidelines”,

its a wonder that ANYONE is ever convicted of ANYTHING!.

and the (short) paragraph concerning death says almost nothing.

I truly believe we are responsible for our own actions, and that the framework of ICBC protects and insulates offenders from their actions. Quite possibly this removes the thought of responsibility from people’s minds when they get behind the wheel. I don’t think there is many people who, before starting their vehicle, think, “I am going to undertake an action that has a risk of injury or death, to myself or to others, possibly caused by me, if I make a mistake.” I am confident that the vast majority of drivers fail to grasp the gravity of the situation. Most think driving is a “right”, rather than a huge responsibility, and a privilege.

In a perfect world, (or at least a better one) people would shoulder their responsibilities. I realize this may cause financial ruin for some people, but hey....they ruined someone else’s life by taking something of theirs that cannot be bought. The victims survivors are going to live with that loss for the rest of their lives. Both myself and my wife fall into that category. She lost a brother and I, a sister, to drunk drivers, who served no jail time, just the pathetic drinking driving costs and prohibitions.



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