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Vehicle Impound Reviews

Vehicle Impound Review

There are many different driving infractions that carry the penalty of a vehicle impoundment. The length of an impoundment varies, ranging from 3 to 60 days. Any vehicle impoundment that is 30 days or longer is eligible for an early release by filing for an appeal at any ICBC driver licensing office. When represented, the Notice of Impoundment and proof of your identity and motor vehicle ownership are required by your lawyer to file for an appeal.

We deal with the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles every day and we know what needs to be done. Our job is to make submissions for our clients to persuade the adjudicator to release your vehicle. The adjudicator has within 7 days to render a decision from the date the review was held.

Two categories of driving infractions that result in a vehicle impoundment


1. Immediate Roadside Prohibitions


The first category of infractions resulting in vehicle impoundment are Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (“IRPs”).

If you receive a 90-Day IRP, there is a mandatory vehicle impoundment of 30 days.

For any IRPs that are shorter than 90-Days (24-hour, 3-day, 7-day, and 30-day IRPs), the law works a bit differently. The length of these impoundments depends on how many IRP infractions you have received in the last 5 years. The impoundment durations are as follows:

  • 3-day impoundment for your first infraction (at police discretion);
  • 7-day impoundment for your second infraction (at police discretion);
  • 30-day impoundment for your third and further infractions in the last 5 years (mandatory)


2. Driving Behaviour Infractions


The second category of impoundments is for driving behaviour infractions. These include:

  • Excessive speeding (40 km/hr or more over the posted speed limit);
  • Driving while prohibited, suspended, or unlicensed;
  • Street racing and stunt drivers;
  • Improperly seated motorcyclists


These offences result in an immediate vehicle impound. The length of the impoundment depends on how many of these infractions you have already received in the last two years. The breakdown for the length of impoundment is:

  • 7-day impoundment for your first infraction;
  • 30-day impoundment for your second infraction in the last two years;
  • 60-day impoundment for your third and further infractions in the last two years

Appealing a Vehicle Impoundment for Early Release


If you are looking to appeal your vehicle impoundment, our office can assist in getting your vehicle out of the impound lot.

There are certain criteria that need to be satisfied for the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles to accept an application for review and ultimately release a vehicle upon review.

  1. The length of the vehicle impoundment must be 30 days or longer.
  2. An application for review must be filed within 15 days from the date of the impoundment.
  3. There is a filing fee of $50 for a written review, or $100 for an oral hearing (via telephone).
  4. The applicant must fit into one of the grounds for appeal, including:
    1. The applicant or their business will experience economic hardship if the vehicle is not released early;
    2. Compassionate grounds such as needing the vehicle for work, education, or medical treatment and no other form of transportation is available;
    3. The applicant is the registered owner and your vehicle was used without their knowledge and consent at the time of the impoundment; or
    4. The applicant is the registered owner and exercised reasonable care and diligence in entrusting the vehicle to the person who was, at the time of the impoundment, in possession of the motor vehicle.

On the surface, these grounds for review appear to be fair and straightforward. However, there are some significant and confusing caveats.

A. Economic Hardship Grounds for Review


For the economic hardship grounds, the applicant must be either the business owner or an authorized representative. They must demonstrate that: (1) the vehicle is used in their company; (2) the company has a reasonable prospect of generating income that is dependent on the impounded vehicle; and (3) the anticipated income that depends on the vehicle represents a substantial proportion of the anticipated income to be earned by the company during the period of impoundment, or otherwise imposes an economic hardship on the company.

After meeting these requirements, there is also a $450 early vehicle release fee if you are successful. Yes, you read that correctly – if you demonstrate that your company will experience economic hardship due to the vehicle impoundment, you will be required to pay an additional $450 for an early release of the vehicle.


B. Compassionate Grounds for Review


For the compassionate grounds, you must be hold a valid driver’s license and be cohabitating with the owner of the vehicle at the time that the vehicle was impounded. The following are reasons for compassionate grounds:

  • The vehicle impoundment will cause you to suffer a loss or negatively impact your employment or educational opportunities.
  • The vehicle impoundment will prevent you, or someone under your care, from obtaining medical treatment.

For both of these reasons, you must demonstrate that you have no reasonable alternative form of transportation (including public transit).

There is a $100 vehicle release fee if you are successful upon review.


C. Absence of Consent and Knowledge of the Registered Owner


This category is fairly straight forward. Are you the registered owner of the vehicle, and was the driver at the time of the impoundment using your vehicle without your consent and knowledge?

The tricky aspect of this category is that there needs to be an absence of both explicit and implicit consent. In other words, there may be implied consent if the driver is someone that has a close relationship with you – the registered owner. Implied consent can be found based on the nature of the relationship between the driver and the registered owner, such as spouses, children, etc.


D. Registered Owner Exercising Reasonable Care and Diligence Entrusting Vehicle


The registered owner must show that they exercised due diligence when they loaned their vehicle to the driver, meaning they were reasonably sure that the driver would operate the vehicle within the bounds of the law when they had possession of it. This sounds like an easy and straightforward test, but we have found that the standard of proof applied by the adjudicators means very few people will fulfill the legal test.

Finally, there are also other ways to get your impounded vehicle released early. These include:

  • Your vehicle was stolen. The owner should contact the police to file a stolen vehicle report and the police can then terminate the impoundment so the registered owner can pay the impound lot and retrieve the vehicle.
  • The unlicensed driver of the impounded vehicle has obtained a valid driver’s licence.

You only have 15 days to file your application for review.

If you want us to help you handle the review of your vehicle impoundment, call us right now and we’ll get started. We’ve protected the driving privileges of thousands of British Columbians just like you. Give us a call.

Call us for a free consultation and learn how we can successfully defend your IRP, ADP or drinking/driving charge.

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