Q&A - Vehicle Inspection Order Questions

Q&A ImageI am wondering if you could shed some light on my situation, I own a 1990 Nissan 240sx, that usually gets 1-3 VI's a year, usually box 1's but the occasional box 2.

Living in Richmond it is something I have grown to expect, but it is becoming ridiculous.. I am a automotive apprentice by trade, work on cars from people of all social status, income level and so on.. I am usually under my car once or twice a week making sure everything is happy, adding parts, replacing parts, what have you...

Where I have a hard time, is I see customers cars daily come into our shop, with loose tie-rod ends, sloppy ball joints, metal on metal brakes.. and those same vehicles leave with the same problems 50% of the time.. Problems I know my vehicle has none of..

Will that cavalier that leaves my shop ever get pulled over for having a loose tie rod? nope.. Will it ever get pulled over for a sloppy ball joint? How? Will that vehicle ever get pulled over because the brakes have 1mm of friction material left? you bet your bottom dollar they wont.. But my 20xxx$ car, That I race on the weekends is a harm to others on the roadway... It makes no logical sense..

I guess this brings me to my questions..

1. What training do officers have in relation to automobiles? Do they have any practical knowledge? or is it all a "officers discretion" situation?

2. I noticed icbc has registration for "modified" vehicles now, Will this exempt me from the hassles or even lessen them on the side of the road?

3. If I felt like this was an on going issue of abuse of power/lack of practical knowledge, who could I bring this up with? My local MLA? Icbc, What department of the RCMP?

I do understand my vehicle varies from the MVA In a couple sections. But none of which will cause other drivers on the highway any immediate danger, or any danger for that matter. I just want to get some answers, and maybe dig deeper into this issue and maybe sort something out that works for all parties involved.


One Question in Return...

What is "I do understand my vehicle varies from the MVA In a couple sections?" Are they enough of a variation that the officer should be writing a VI when they are noticed?

The actual mechanical training possessed by officers can vary. I have worked with some that were licensed mechanics before they joined the police force. Others have only the knowledge that they have gained once they were transferred to a traffic enforcement position. In some ways it is an "officer's discretion" situation as the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations allow it:

Powers of peace officer

25.30 (1) If a peace officer has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that a vehicle is, by reason of mechanical, structural or other defect, unsafe for use on a highway, whether or not the vehicle meets the standards prescribed under the Act, he or she may order the owner or operator of the vehicle, either immediately or within such time as is specified in the order, to do one or both of the following:

(a) remove it from the highway and keep it so removed until either

(i) repairs as may be set out in the order of the peace officer have been implemented, or

(ii) the peace officer revokes the order;

(b) surrender the vehicle licence or number plates, or both, for that vehicle to the corporation or to the peace officer.

Yes, ICBC does have a modified vehicles registration provision. In order to register, you must have a pass from an inspection facility. Of course, the pass really only identifies the vehicle as being properly equipped at the time it was inspected. I am aware of many situations where an owner would correct defects, pass inspection and then immediately change the vehicle back to the way it was pre-inspection. Being registered as a modified vehicle will not provide any protection from being ordered to inspection again.

I have the following advice:

A VI cannot be disputed like a ticket, however, if it is not justified you may be able to have it withdrawn.

1) When it is issued, politely question the officer and ask for the items that triggered the order. If you know that they are lawful mods, point it out, and explain why you know it is legal. Ask them to reconsider issuing the VI.

2) If #1 doesn't work, go on with your day and do some research to make sure the mods mentioned are legal. Call the Detachment/Department the issuing officer works at and try to make an appointment to discuss a reconsideration with the officer.

3) If #2 doesn't work or the officer does not want to discuss it with you, contact the same Detachment/Department in a second phonecall and make an appointment to discuss the VI with the issuing officer's supervisor.

4) If #3 doesn't work at this point you are pretty much stuck with the VI unless you want to try one last appeal to the head of the Detachment/Department. Chances are that they will go with the supervisor's decision unless you can convince them otherwise.

5) If you go through with the VI and the facility finds no defects, you can consider a complaint to the RCMP Public Complaints Commission or the BC Police Complaints Commission depending if it was an RCMP officer or a city police officer that issued the VI.

6) You could consider trying to recover the cost of the VI, but at this point I suspect that you would need legal counsel for advice.

If you do have defects, even if they are different from the ones the issuing officer originally pointed out, perhaps it is best to take the VI as it is. All equipment violations are $109 tickets and if written under section 219(1) MVA they end up on your driving record. The VI doesn't (unless you have a National Safety Code Number - commercial vehicles).

I would also try and protect myself by having the inspection facility that passed my vehicle list the mods that I had made and they had passed on a piece of letterhead that they attach to the pass document. If you are stopped again, you can use this to point out to the officer that the mod they are questioning was passed by the facility.


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