Impaired Driving - The Various Prohibitions and Suspensions
Drinking and driving is a leading cause of death on the roads, and is the number one criminal cause of death in B.C. As a result, police have the discretion to issue various driving prohibitions or licence suspensions. This section of the site provides information on each of these sanctions, plus provides information on what the courts can do if you are convicted of impaired driving and the Superintendent’s authority to issue an administrative prohibition if a review of your driving record shows you to be a high-risk driver.
12-hour Roadside Suspensions
12-hour roadside suspensions apply to Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) participants only.
If you are licensed under the GLP (Learner or Novice) and are stopped by police while having the care and operation of a vehicle and a test on an Approved Screening Device indicates that you have any level of alcohol in your body you will receive an immediate 12-hour driving suspension. Police will take your driver’s licence and you may not drive until the suspension period is over and you have retrieved your licence from the police station.
- As part of the Driver Improvement Program (DIP), the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles will automatically review your driving record and can issue you further driving prohibitions if your record proves unsatisfactory. For more information see Driver Improvement Program page on this website.
- Blood alcohol content between 0.05 and 0.08 – if you register a blood alcohol content in this range or are impaired by drugs, you will face the regular consequences fully-licensed drivers face. See Driving While Impaired page on this website.
- Blood alcohol content over 0.08 – if your blood alcohol content is over 0.08, you will face the regular consequences fully-licensed drivers face and may also be charged under the Criminal Code for driving impaired and, if convicted, will have to face court-ordered and other consequences. See Driving While Impaired page on this website.
- GLP drivers who receive a driving prohibition will go back to the beginning of their 12-month (L) or 24-month (N) stage.
Requesting a review – there is no review process available for 12-Hour Roadside Suspension issued by police to GLP drivers. If you disagree with the actions of police, you can lodge a complaint with the police detachment identified on the 'Notice' you were given by police.
24-hour Roadside Prohibitions
If police have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that your driving ability is affected by alcohol and/or drugs and you had care or control of a vehicle:
- Police can issue you a 'Notice' of a 24-hour driving prohibition which will begin immediately.
- It is not necessary that police request a breath sample using an Approved Screening Device for blood alcohol content analysis. Police are trained to recognize signs of an impaired driver. However, if, at the roadside, the driver can satisfy police that he or she is not impaired by drugs or alcohol a prohibition will not be issued.*
- Your driver’s licence will be taken by police and will be held at the police station for you to retrieve at the end of the prohibition period. The driving prohibition starts immediately upon issuance, and remains in effect for a full 24 hours.
*You may ask police to test your blood alcohol content on an Approved Screening Device if you believe you are not impaired, however; if the test result indicates you are impaired, you will face other consequences.
For more information see:
- Police can have your vehicle impounded for 24 hours; and you will have to pay all towing and vehicle storage costs before you can retrieve your vehicle. See Vehicle Impoundment page on this website.
- Driving prohibitions are kept on your driving record for the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles to review at any time. The review may result in additional sanctions under the Driver Improvement Program.
- If you have been issued 24-hour driving prohibitions three times, the Superintendent may require you to attend the Responsible Driving Program and / or enrol in the Ignition Interlock Program.
Requesting a review – see the Disputes, Appeals and Reviews page on this website.
Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (IRPs) – 3, 7, 30 and 90 Days
If a peace officer suspects you are impaired by alcohol while having the care or control of a motor vehicle they can request you provide a sample of your breath into an Approved Screening Device (ASD) to measure your blood alcohol content. The officer is required to offer you a second opportunity to provide a sample of your breath into a different ASD – if the results differ, the lower of the two results will prevail.
If the device reads WARN (Your breath sample contains a BAC of not less than 0.05) police will:
- Seize your driver’s licence
- Issue you a 'Notice of Prohibition' which will start immediately – removing your driving privileges – the length of which depends on prior IRP convictions (if any)
- 3-day driving prohibition if it is the first time caught in the warn range;
- 7-day driving prohibition if it is the second time caught in the warn range within five years; or
- 30-day driving prohibition if it is the third time caught in the warn range within five years.
If the ASD reads FAIL (If your breath sample contains a BAC of over 0.08), or if you refuse to provide a breath sample, police will:
- Seize your driver’s licence
- Issue you a 'Notice of Prohibition' which will start immediately – removing your driving privileges for 90 days
- Alternatively, you may be served an Administrative Driving Prohibition, and charged criminally under the Criminal Code of Canada for Impaired Driving.
Immediate Roadside Prohibition Program
Immediate Roadside Prohibition Penalties
Other Consequences: Vehicle impoundment is discretionary (decided at the roadside), for 3 and 7 day prohibitions. Vehicle impoundment is mandatory for 30 or 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (30-day impoundment period). Participation in the Ignition Interlock and Responsible Driver Program may be required for 30 and 90-day prohibitions. In addition, there are monetary penalties.
Requesting a Review – see the Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (IRP) section on the Disputes, Appeals and Reviews page on this website.
Administrative Driving Prohibitions (ADPs) – 90 Days
If police suspect you have consumed alcohol and had care or control of a motor vehicle within the preceding three hours, police may request you provide a breath sample for testing on a breathalyser machine or a blood sample. If your breath or blood sample indicates blood alcohol content above 0.08, or if you refuse to provide a sample of your breath, police may issue you a 90-day ‘Notice of Driving Prohibition’ and may also charge you under the Criminal Code of Canada for impaired driving.
For more information see:
- If you are charged under the Criminal Code of Canada, you will have to attend court.
- If convicted, you will face other consequences covered in the following section (further down this page).
- In addition you will have to pay a Driver Risk Premium – www.icbc.com/driver-licensing/tickets/risk-premium
Requesting a Review – see the Administrative Driving Prohibition (ADP) section on the Disputes, Appeals and Reviews page on this website.
Driving Prohibitions Upon Criminal Conviction (court ordered)
It is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada to drive while impaired by alcohol, drugs or a combination of both. It is also an offence to drive above the criminal threshold of 0.08 BAC.
Police may charge you under the Criminal Code of Canada as being impaired by drugs, alcohol or both or for refusal or failure to provide breath, blood, saliva, and/or urine samples and/or perform a physical coordination test. If you are convicted in court, you will receive:
- upon your 1st Conviction — a 1-3 year driving prohibition (plus minimum $1000 penalty)
- upon your 2nd Conviction — a 2-5 year driving prohibition (plus minimum 30 days imprisonment)
- upon your 3rd Conviction — a minimum 3 year to-lifetime driving prohibition (plus minimum 120 days imprisonment)
Prohibitions Issued by the Superintendent due to a Poor Driving Record
Under the Driver Improvement Program, the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles will automatically review your driving record and can issue you additional driving prohibitions if your record proves unsatisfactory. If, for example, you are an experienced driver who received three 24-hour prohibitions within two years for driving impaired, the Superintendent may issue you a driving prohibition -- the length of the driving prohibition is decided individually for each case.
Driver’s Licence Reinstatement
If you wish to drive again, after the prohibition period, you will have to visit the Driver Licensing Office to apply for and pay for the reinstatement of your driver’s licence. See Getting your Driver’s Licence Back page on this website.