OSMV reviewing 1,200 Immediate Roadside Prohibition files
There is a much more updated post on this topic dealing with the reconsideration for referral to the responsible driver program and the success we’ve had in this regard. Please see: We can have the responsible driver program requirement lifted
The BC Government announced yesterday that the OSMV is reviewing 1,200 Immediate Roadside Prohibition files. They better get ready, because they’re going to have to review a lot more than that.
It’s been about two months since we started taking action for clients who were compelled to complete the remedial requirements (Interlock and Responsible Driver Program) after receiving an Immediate Roadside Prohibition in the weeks leading up to the Court’s first ruling in Sivia.
For those who don’t remember, in the weeks leading up to the finding of unconstitutionality the police in BC were still issuing IRPs. However, those whose 90-day driving bans ended after November 30, 2011 were not required to install an ignition interlock in their vehicle or take the Responsible Driver Program. They were given their licenses back and that was the end of it.
That was how things stood until autumn of this year when all of a sudden the Superintendent determined it would compel drivers to complete these programs as a result of an IRP they had received a year earlier. The vast majority of these people had been driving incident-free during that time.
Of course, there was no valid public safety objective that would justify the imposition of these programs almost a year after the person received their IRP. To us it appeared to be one of two things: pure ideologically-driven excessively punitive punishment, or a cash grab. Okay, maybe both.
In the days following these letters being sent to drivers, we received hundreds of calls from people who wanted to fight this decision. We came up with a plan and we put it into motion.
The law — then and now — states that referral to these programs is discretionary. Of course, we hadn’t heard of a single instance where the discretion was exercised in favor of the driver. It seems to us that the law was written that way to try and fool the Court when the IRP scheme faced judicial review. And in Sivia the lawyers for the Government stated to the Court that it was discretionary, i.e. that not everyone would be required to go through it. This made the IRP scheme seem less draconian.
We decided to call the Government on this and to make submissions for our clients, requesting the requirements be lifted.
We didn’t write for everyone. We chose cases carefully, picking only those whose driving records did not demonstrate any history of problems. We picked people with sympathetic circumstances who could show they had no problem with alcohol. The kind of people we believe ought to be exempted if the Superintendent’s discretion is being properly applied. We wrote several letters. And then we waited for a response.
And waited a little more, because we are humble and reasonable.
When it became clear that the OSMV was not interested in responding to our letters, we took action. We had our next steps planned in advance. We would compel them to render a decision. We began to file Petitions to the Court seeking an order of mandamus, compelling the Government to exercise their discretion and respond to our submissions.
The Government used stall tactics to try to slow us down and keep our Petition from being heard in Court. We continued to pressure the Attorney General’s office for a response and for some action. Yesterday, our efforts paid off.
The Government published an Information Release stating that it had reviewed the Petitions filed in these instances (Petitions we filed) and had determined that it was necessary to do something. All 1200 drivers impacted by this set of circumstances are now subject to a new, and we hope proper and lawful, review by the Superintendent. The Government claims that those whose driving records do not disclose a problem with alcohol should have these requirements revoked.
So our plan worked.
Even those who weren’t our clients should get the benefit of this. But what of the people, not our clients, who simply installed the Ignition Interlock and enrolled in the RDP at the Government’s request? Will they be entitled to their money back if a review of their file determines they ought to have been exempted? We think so.
And what of many people who simply said “no” and didn’t participate in these programs? Many suffered consequences beyond just losing their licenses. They lost their jobs. They may have defaulted on mortgage payments. There was added stress and anxiety in their lives. Shouldn’t they be entitled to some compensation as a result of the Government’s failure to act with discretion and instead to impose blanket requirements on a class of people? We think so.
Who is entitled to what and how much remains to be seen. As far as we’re concerned, the battle isn’t over for our clients. Until the Government admits the requirements are discretionary and exercises that discretion appropriately, we are going to continue to come up with ways to protect our clients’ rights and our clients’ licenses.