The Consequences of a Traffic Ticket in British Columbia

The consequences of a traffic ticket in British Columbia can be significant and not easily determined. As a Vancouver criminal defence lawyer who focuses on impaired driving cases, I often encounter clients who have received traffic tickets. Before speaking with me, many of my clients think that by paying their ticket that will be the end of it. This cannot be further from the truth. There are many consequences to traffic tickets that can have a significant impact on your license.

Over the next few posts, I will discuss some of the lesser-known consequences of traffic tickets in British Columbia.

Driving Prohibitions:

Even a single ticket can trigger a driving prohibition, sometimes a lengthy one. There are three ways a driving prohibition can result from a traffic ticket.

The first, and least common, is the officer submits a report to the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles at RoadSafetyBC outlining your alleged driving behaviour. The Superintendent or an adjudicator reviews this report and can then send a driving prohibition in the mail. Typically these prohibitions are about six months in length. They can be disputed, but they take effect immediately upon receipt, which means that you are prohibited from driving while disputing the prohibition.

Disputing your traffic ticket does not prevent these prohibitions from being issued. The officer’s allegation is the sole basis of why the prohibition is issued, regardless of whether what the cop says is bogus.

This type of driving prohibition was recently discussed in Wang v. British Columbia (Motor Vehicles), 2012 BCSC 101. I have a good track record at having these types of prohibitions revoked for my clients. They are difficult to dispute and it is important to have someone who knows what works.

The second way you may receive a prohibition from driving as a result of a traffic ticket comes from disputing the ticket in court. If you are unsuccessful in your dispute or if you plead guilty the officer prosecuting the ticket can seek a driving prohibition as part of your sentence. In some cases, the Justice of the Peace can impose a driving prohibition on their own accord. These court-ordered prohibitions can only be disputed by appealing the sentence to the BC Supreme Court.

Finally, you can also be given a driving prohibition by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles once a ticket is added to your driving record. Disputing your ticket will prevent you from being issued a prohibition until your dispute is resolved.

These prohibitions are issued under Section 93(1)(a)(ii) of the Motor Vehicle Act. This section gives the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles discretion to issue a driving prohibition based on an unsatisfactory record. This term is not defined in the legislation, meaning that the adjudicators at RoadSafetyBC have full discretion to decide what is unsatisfactory.

These prohibitions can be disputed. The Superintendent will consider whether the driver’s need to drive outweighs the public interest in prohibiting the driver based on an unsatisfactory record. Often this is a high onus on the driver, so the assistance of a lawyer like myself with a record of success in these cases can be extremely helpful. You can read more about these prohibitions, which are served under the “Driver Improvement Program” here.

I have had many people under a misconception that there is a “6 point” or “2 ticket” rule regarding these prohibitions. This is not true. There is no hard and fast rule, but you can expect that if you have a Class 7 or “N” license, even one ticket will result in a driving prohibition, particularly if you have been ticketed for anything to do with alcohol or drugs, cell phones, or excessive speeding. As a Class 7 driver, your two-year probationary period resets with every driving prohibition so it is important to dispute tickets you receive.

If you have a Class 5 license or better, generally the Superintendent’s delegates look for a pattern of behaviour. For example, someone who gets several speeding tickets in a one-year period might be subject to such a prohibition.

People are also under the common misconception that only those tickets that accumulate driver penalty points can trigger a prohibition. It is uncommon for this to occur, but I have acted for clients who received prohibitions for too many seatbelt tickets, prohibitions for too many No N tickets, or other similar tickets.

These consequences of traffic tickets are not listed on your ticket. You may not know until it is too late that there were more serious consequences to your ticket than you originally thought. Once you pay your ticket, it is too late to dispute it. That is why it is important to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable traffic lawyer before going further.

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