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TICKETS AND YOUR RIGHT TO DRIVE

Many people need their vehicles for work duties or to get to and from work, to pick up their children, and to run day-to-day errands. In many areas of British Columbia you simply cannot get around without your driver’s license. Although we view driving as a privilege, it is also a necessity and if you meet the requirements to have a driver’s license then you have a right to drive.

We rely on our vehicles and our right to drive to make our lives easier. It is not always practical to take the bus, especially if you live in an area where public transportation is less than adequate. But traffic tickets can impact your right to drive in many ways. Even one ticket can cost you your right to drive. That is why it is important to consider hiring a Vancouver traffic lawyer as soon as you receive a ticket.

Here are some of the ways a traffic ticket can impact your right to drive:

Driving Prohibitions

Certain tickets and Criminal Code charges carry with them driving prohibitions. There are several different kinds of driving prohibitions that you may be subject to. There is a great deal of discretion given to the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles in issuing driving prohibitions. A lawyer can assist you in appealing any prohibitions you receive.

If police believe you are driving while your ability to operate a vehicle is impaired by alcohol or a drug, they can issue a 24-hour driving prohibition. You have a right to review this prohibition. This can be done by filing an application within seven days of receipt of the Notice of Prohibition. Though you will have already served the prohibition, a successful review will result in the prohibition being removed from your record. This is critical because the more prohibitions you have on your record, the greater the likelihood you may lose your right to drive further. A Vancouver traffic lawyer can assist you in these reviews.

24-Hour prohibitions are usually followed by an Administrative Driving Prohibition. This is a 90-day prohibition from driving that is issued to all drivers who have been charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle or refusal to provide a breath or blood sample. The Administrative Driving Prohibition takes effect 21 days from the date it is served on you. You have seven days from this date to request a review. A Vancouver traffic lawyer can assist you in these reviews.

The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles can also issue a driving prohibition if he considers your driving record to be “unsatisfactory”. Your driving record is assessed based on the number of violations, the time between each violation, and the severity of the violations. If you are an N or L driver, your record is subject to more scrutiny than experienced drivers. These prohibitions can be appealed by way of a written submission. Vancouver traffic lawyers are experienced in these submissions and have demonstrated success in reducing or eliminating these prohibitions. If you need to drive, it is imperative that you hire a Vancouver traffic lawyer as soon as you receive a Notice of Intent to Prohibit.

The penalties for driving while prohibited are very severe. It is a criminal offence to drive while prohibited. If convicted, you will be facing fines from $500 to $2000 and the possibility of a jail sentence for up to six months. If you are convicted a second time, you will spend a minimum of 14 days in prison. Your vehicle will be impounded for a minimum of 60 days, and you can face a further one-year prohibition. You are responsible for the cost of towing and storing your vehicle during impoundment.

Vehicle Impoundment

Police have the power to impound your vehicle if they find you committing an offence. If this occurs, you will be given a Notice of Impoundment, and then receive a subsequent notice by mail. Any vehicle you are driving can be impounded, regardless of whether it belongs to you or not.

You can receive a 30-day impoundment if you are found driving without a valid driver’s license and you have already been convicted of this once before. 60-day impoundments are typically given if you have been prohibited from driving or suspended from driving and you are caught driving. They can also occur where you have already received a vehicle impoundment in the last two years. In these cases, the 30-day impoundment will be raised to 60 days. Street racing, which is a Criminal Code offence, carries with it a 48-hour impoundment for the first offence. Subsequent street racing offences will result in a 30-day impoundment.

The 30- and 60-day vehicle impoundments can be reviewed. There is, however, no opportunity to review a vehicle impoundment received for street racing offences. Applications for review must be made within 30 days of receipt of the Notice of Impoundment. A Vancouver traffic lawyer can assist you in the review process. If your application is successful, you will need to pay a Vehicle Release Fee of $100 or $450 dollars.

You are responsible for all the costs associated with towing and storing your vehicle during your impoundment period. This can be very expensive.

Suspension of your license

If you are convicted of driving-related Criminal Code offences, your license can be suspended. This can be aggravated if you already have a poor driving record. Your first license suspension will last for one year. If you have already been convicted in the last ten years, however, the suspension will be for three years. If you have three or more convictions, your license will be suspended indefinitely. Indefinite suspensions can be reduced if you meet certain requirements. A lawyer can assist you with this process.

When your license is suspended, you must surrender it to ICBC. This means that you can no longer use it as a form of identification, and you will be required to obtain a BCID until your suspension is over. When your suspension period is over, you can apply for another driver’s license.

If your license was suspended indefinitely, you must wait a minimum of five years before you can reapply. If your license was suspended for three or more years, you must also take a road test and a vision test before your license will be reinstated. You are responsible for paying all the fees associated with reinstatement of your license, driving tests, vision tests, and any applicable traffic violation fines.

The penalties for driving while your license is suspended are very severe. It is a criminal offence to drive while prohibited. If convicted, you will be facing fines from $500 to $2000 and the possibility of a jail sentence for up to six months. If you are convicted a second time, you will spend a minimum of 14 days in prison. Your vehicle will be impounded for a minimum of 60 days, and you can face a further one-year prohibition. You are responsible for the cost of towing and storing your vehicle during impoundment.

Unpaid Tickets and Premiums

If you have an unpaid traffic ticket, the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles will not allow you to renew your driver’s license, take a driving exam, or renew your insurance. An unpaid ticket can prevent you from continuing to drive.

If you have been assessed a Driver Penalty Point Premium or a Driver Risk Premium, you must also have fully paid your fine amount. If you have not done so, your ability to renew your license or insurance or to take a driving exam will be threatened.

Fighting traffic tickets can help to reduce the risk of being made to pay Driver Penalty Point Premiums or Driver Risk Premiums. Defending against traffic tickets can also reduce the fine you have to pay, or eliminate the ticket altogether. It is important to consider hiring a Vancouver traffic lawyer as soon as you receive a ticket, to avoid these fines from occurring.


If ICBC decides you are more likely to cause an accident, you may have to pay a Driver Risk Premium apart from Driver Penalty Point Premiums. See Tickets and Insurance…