If you received a 90-day driving prohibition in British Columbia for falling or refusing a roadside breathalyzer test, you only had seven days to dispute it. After the seven-day limitation period is up, there is nothing you can do.
Similarly, if you had a hearing scheduled but did not get your submissions in by the hearing date and time, the RoadSafetyBC policies require that you are deemed to have waived your rights to have a hearing.
However, under a new order granted under the Emergency Program Act in British Columbia, you may be able to get a little relief on those otherwise hard-and-fast deadlines. As of March 26, 2020, if you missed a time limit to dispute your IRP or to submit your materials for an IRP hearing, you can request an extension.
What does this mean for you?
This order would only apply to you if you missed the deadline to dispute or submit evidence in your case on or after March 26, 2020.
So, if March 26, 2020, was your last day to dispute the prohibition or the date of your review hearing and for some reason, you were not able to make your submissions or file your application for review, you should be able to request an extension.
How do I request an extension?
You can request an extension yourself, or have a lawyer from our office do it for you. In order to do that, you must make a submission to RoadSafetyBC for an extension of the time frame that applies to you.
The trick will be identifying just what circumstances require an extension. For example, if you were unable to get witness statements because your witnesses were hospitalized, an extension of the deadline to submit evidence seems logical. But, will RoadSafetyBC accept this as a reason?
If you were not able to file your submissions because you did not have access to a fax machine and ICBC was closed, or you were not able to get there with limitations on public transit… will that be a sufficient reason?
What about people who are quarantined? Or who are subject to self-isolation. In the circumstances of this pandemic, a person can go from free to subject to a self-isolation order in an instant. Most people cannot plan for this – it just happens all of a sudden. But will the tribunal accept the imposition of these orders as an excuse for not submitting evidence on time?
The closest answer may be found in a very old case, addressing the issue at a time when extensions were allowed. This was a case called Segers v. British Columbia, which stated that extensions may be allowed if five factors were met:
First, the driver had a legitimate intention to dispute the prohibition;
Second, the driver took reasonable and appropriate steps to dispute it;
Third, the driver did not cause the failure to meet a deadline;
Fourth, there is an argument worthy of merit; and
Fifth, the application is brought as soon as practical.
So in order to get an extension, you will likely have to address these factors. This can be difficult to do if you waited until the last minute to try to dispute your prohibition and then were not able to do so. And so you’ll have to explain what you were doing during the days leading up to missing the deadline that prevented you from disputing the prohibition in time.
This is why it is important to hire a lawyer to help bring these applications, as opposed to going it alone.
But, no matter what, right now there is a glimmer of hope for anyone who missed the seven-day time limit to dispute the IRP or who failed to submit their evidence and arguments on time. And given how significant the consequences of an IRP are, it makes sense to pursue any opportunity available to you to dispute it while you still can.
This order won’t last forever. It will automatically be rescinded when the state of emergency declared in BC has ended. This means if you want to act, you need to act fast. You can reach me here.