I'll Drive if I Want to

Devil's HeadI watched a television news story about a traffic collision that interviewed family members exiting the courthouse. One of the people lamented that if the known bad driver had been prohibited from driving the whole incident that brought them there never would have happened. If only it were that simple, because a driver will only stop driving after being prohibited if they want to comply with the law.

My contact with a driver like this began when I stopped a business vehicle for speeding. The driver was the sole proprietor of the business and had been prohibited from driving for, you guessed it, too many speeding tickets. He explained to me that if he couldn't drive, he couldn't carry on his business and his family would be in trouble. I did feel sorry for his plight but dealt with him as the law required.

Fast forward a few weeks and I saw the same business vehicle in traffic again. Knowing the owner's prohibited status I stopped it and found the same man behind the wheel. He was taking his son to the boy's Little League baseball game. This was obviously a drive for pleasure and had nothing to do with earning money to support his family.

I've also had conversations with ICBC Driver Examiners in the past. Occasionally they would have a senior to re-examine and after a road test would fail the driver. Many of them would hand in their driver's licence, return to their vehicle and drive home.

ICBC traffic ticket statistics show an average of about 2,400 driving while prohibited charges under the Motor Vehicle Act each year from 2014 to 2018. There were also about 310 criminal charges for driving while disqualified annually during that time frame.

In an attempt to make punishment immediate for drivers who drive without a licence or are prohibited from driving, the BC government created the Vehicle Impoundment Program in 2005. Police are required to impound vehicles when these drivers are found on our highways. This usually happens through Automated Licence Plate Recognition or because the driver commits a traffic rule offence.

There is a 7 day impoundment for the first infraction, a 30 day impoundment for a second infraction and a 60 day impoundment for a third or subsequent driving infraction within a two year period.

An unintended consequence of this program is the number of vehicles being abandoned in lieu of paying the accumulated towing and storage charges.

To make a long story short, this man is one of many drivers who will follow the traffic rules when they suit him and won't when they do not. This sense of entitlement is visible on our highways every day. Unfortunately, the only way to stop some prohibited drivers from driving is to lock them up.

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Comments

The Law

That is what the law is for, protecting the public from harm.

Two Things You Forgot

One area you left out, and many don’t think of this until too late, is the fact that when a driver is not authorized by law to operate a vehicle, they have NO auto insurance.  Had the self employed businessman come to your attention after negligently being involved in a collision, which severely injured a third party.  ICBC would not provide any own damage coverage for your businessman driving his truck, and would pay the damages, material and bodily injury to the parties suffering a loss, and collect that back from the businessman.  Perhaps taking his business, his home, etc.

Secondly the impoundment program sound like a great simple idea.  Unfortunately once a vehicle is impounded IF an error has been made by the police (yes believe it or not they do) it is virtually impossible to get the vehicle out of impoundment in a timely manner.

Example:  A vehicle is stolen overnight.  Before it is reported  stolen it is stopped by the police.  The prohibited driver claims it is a friend’s vehicle.  The vehicle is not on CPIC as stolen.  The vehicle is impounded.  The following day when the owner discovers it stolen he reports same and the entering jurisdiction receives a “no hit query” (meaning the vehicles information was queried prior to it being reported stolen).  The owner goes to ICBC, reports the vehicle stolen, the location is revealed to ICBC, 9 times out of 10 by the time ICBC gets the cooperation to have the vehicle released, the impoundment period has expired.  ICBC, having to rent a replacement vehicle for the insured and any damages, of course not started until the end of the impoundment.

Suggestion

Take the vehicle immediately and sell/auction it, no second chances, a bit tough but effective...

'Tough but effective?'

But, is it reasonable?

On the one hand, if a driver is behind the wheel of his own vehicle, and has chosen to operate that vehicle without holding a valid license, then fair enough, let's impound it! Immediate problem solved. (Ironically, of course, if the driver hasn't renewed his license due to outstanding fines owed to ICBC, the action of locking up their car until they're able to legally recover it isn't likely to help their individual financial situation.)

But if the owner of the vehicle hasn't realized that the driver no longer holds a valid license, then the punishment is inflicted on the vehicle owner, rather than the driver who drove without a valid license. And being as they don't hold a valid license, then they can't be issued demerit points, only a fine.

So the effect of the impound punishment will quite differently affect the miscreant driver, and the error of ommision on the part of the vehicle owner, for not ensuring they were properly licensed.

Senior licensing.

I think this deserves some clarity:

I've also had conversations with ICBC Driver Examiners in the past. Occasionally they would have a senior to re-examine and after a road test would fail the driver. Many of them would hand in their driver's licence, return to their vehicle and drive home.

20+ years ago, when I was a Driver Examiner, there was a certain amount of discretion allowed in the event of a Senior failing their re-exam. So long as they were able to drive in a reasonably safe manner, it was normal to withold their Driver License and replace it with a Class 5 Learner License (the key stipulation there being the requirement for an adult licensed driver to occupy the right front seat). But if they had shown up by themselves for the test, we would also write out a 2616 form; basically a one-way ticket to drive themselves back home again, legally. And after all, if someone has managed to survive sixty-odd years behind the wheel, and maybe just went into a playground zone at 40 km/h (which caused them to fail) then there's no logical reason not to provide that courtesy.

These days of course, the demerits point road test design is no longer used in the case of seniors undergoing a re-exam. It's been replaced with the Enhanced Road Assessment. And amongst the instructions provided on the ICBC site is this:

If there were any traffic violations, dangerous actions, or other safety concerns during your ERA, you will be issued a learner’s driver’s licence while your file is reviewed by RoadSafetyBC. This means you will need a licensed supervisor in the vehicle when you drive. Please ensure you bring a licensed companion to your ERA appointment in the event you are issued a learner’s licence.

That helps to ensure that both the senior, and their vehicle, are able to return home safely and legally regardless of the outcome.

(These days, due to Covid-19 and the massive backlog for other types of driving test, the ERA program is not in operation. So seniors are being re-issued their 5-year license renewals without triggering a medical form being issued per RSBC.)

ICBC traffic ticket statistics show an average of about 2,400 driving while prohibited charges under the Motor Vehicle Act each year from 2014 to 2018. There were also about 310 criminal charges for driving while disqualified annually during that time frame.

I wonder how accurately this reflects the number of drivers out there who don't actually hold a valid license.

Consequences

Consequence for our actions. We all make mistakes, but three strikes (same offense) and "Your Out". There are many things that we use daily in this world, the vehicle is one that can maim, kill and subsequently alter people's lives. Any program, law or enforcement of laws that save a life ...is a good law.

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