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Vehicle Impounds as a Penalty

The use of vehicle impoundment as part of an array of penalties to discourage improper driving behaviour will expand significantly when amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act become law on September 20, 2010. In every case the cost of the impoundment will be the responsibility of the owner of the vehicle. If the owner was not the driver at the time, they may recover costs from the driver as a debt in any court of competent jurisdiction.

In the case of an impaired driver with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) over 80 mg% or who refuses to provide a breath sample, there will be a 24 hour vehicle impound if the driver is proceeded against under the Criminal Code. The impoundment period rises to 30 days if the officer decides to proceed using the Immediate Roadside Prohibition provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act instead. This new process will be the subject of future columns.

Drivers whose BAC falls between 50 and 80 mg% currently receive a 24 hour impoundment with their 24 hour prohibition. This will become a 3 day impoundment for a first instance, a 7 day impoundment for a second instance, and a 30 day impoundment for any subsequent instance that occurs within a 5 year period.

Unlicensed, suspended and prohibited drivers will see their impoundment periods drop from 30 days to 7 days. The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles can escalate the length of the impoundment if the behaviour is repeated.

Finally, a new collection of bad driving behaviours will be subject to vehicle impoundment. Excessive speed, stunting, racing or operating a motorcycle without a proper license, while not seated properly or while not following license restrictions will bring an immediate 7 day impoundment. Again, the Superintendent may choose to escalate the impoundment period for repeat offenders. (These motorcycle provisions will come into effect at a later date to be determined by the legislature.)

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