Q&A - Does Driving Without Insurance Mean an Immediate Impound?

Ticket WriterWhen a person is stopped for no insurance in BC, no matter where, is the car immediately impounded? Are there any exemptions? The reason I asked is: my employee said he got stopped for expired plates on the car he was driving, but the RCMP officer in Courtenay told him just to park it, even though the ICBC insurance had expired a week earlier.

Comments

Impoundment

There is no provision for impounding a vehicle under the Motor Vehicle Act for driving without insurance. In fact, vehicles from outside BC that meet the requirements of section 21 MVA are not required to be insured and can legally operate on our highways.

Insurance and licence go hand in hand here in BC. We can't have valid BC licence plates without also having a valid insurance policy. If the plates are expired, so is the insurance.

Offence

13 (1) A person commits an offence if the person drives, operates, parks or is in charge of a motor vehicle or trailer on a highway

(a) without the licence required by this Act for the operation of that motor vehicle or trailer having been first obtained and being then in force,

24(3) A person must not drive or operate a motor vehicle or trailer on a highway unless

(b) the motor vehicle and the trailer, if any, are insured under a valid and subsisting motor vehicle liability policy evidenced by an owner's certificate.

It is illegal to drive an uninsured vehicle on the highway (unless exempted), and it is illegal to drive, park or be in charge of an unlicenced vehicle or trailer on a highway.

There is provision for removing an unattended, unlicenced vehicle from the highway though:

Police may move parked vehicle

188(2) When an unattended vehicle is

(c) without proper or valid number plates, 

a peace officer may take it into his or her custody and cause it to be taken to and stored in a safe and otherwise suitable place.

Chances are good that you have been stopped for the expired plates/insurance and have stopped off the highway in a safe place that is not a place where it is illegal to stop, park or stand. In this case, you could theoretically occupy your vehicle, have someone else renew your insurance, deliver the documents and decal whereupon you could drive away. If you are not in a place that fits this criteria, it's illegal to drive further, so your vehicle could be towed for illegal parking.

The officer does not have the authority to tell you to move an unlicenced, uninsured vehicle off of the roadway. If something were to happen, you would both be in trouble!

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