Appealing 24 Hour Driving Suspensions and Prohibitions in BC

Learn the basics of appealing and dealing with a 24 hour driving suspension and prohibition in BC here.

Police car with lights at night

Police officers may always prohibit a person from driving for a period of 24 hours if there are “reasonable and probable grounds” to believe that the person’s ability to operate a vehicle is affected by alcohol[1]. A 24-hour prohibition notice is issued roadside to the driver and a copy of the notice is sent to ICBC to be placed on the driver’s record.

What are reasonable and probable grounds?

For the purposes of a criminal investigation, the sample provided at the roadside does not provide the evidence for a subsequent criminal charge. Rather, it may provide the “reasonable and probable grounds” for a further analysis under s. 254(3) of the Criminal Code. The test under s. 254(3) is conducted with an approved instrument (breathalyzer), not an approved screening device (roadside test) and provides evidence that may be relied upon by the Crown if criminal charges are filed.

While a roadside test may provide sufficient evidence for a 24-hour prohibition, the information and fact sheets provided by the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles maintain that an approved test must be administered if a driver requests it [2].

What if you are not convicted of a criminal offence?

The roadside licence suspension provided for in s. 215 of BC’s Motor Vehicle Act is independent of criminal charges. Although the 24 hour roadside suspension was challenged in R. v. Wolff, the Court of Appeal held that the legislation was within the powers of a provincial legislature, and it did matter whether the power was exercised before or after a conviction under the Criminal Code [3].

Are you entitled to seek the advice of a lawyer before taking the roadside test?

Couple consulting a lawyer

No. Courts have maintained that although roadside stops result in a violation of the s. 9 right not to be arbitrarily held and the s. 10(b) right to counsel, these violations represent reasonable limits on these rights under s. 1 of the Charter [4]. In R. v. Orbanski the Court held that the limit on the s. 10(b) right of drivers was a limit “prescribed by law” in that a right to counsel in these circumstances would be incompatible with the “operational requirements” of police officers checking for sobriety of drivers [5].

Is it legal for a police officer to impound your car?

Yes. If the officer believes that impoundment is necessary to prevent the vehicle from being operated before the prohibition expires they may do so at the owner’s expense.

Can you appeal the impoundment?

No. You or an authorized representative may go to the impound lot to pay the towing and storage fees and reclaim the vehicle when the impoundment period ends.

A driver whose vehicle has been impounded is liable for the costs of towing and storage and those costs constitute a lien on the motor vehicle. These costs are set by the Lien on Impounded Motor Vehicle Regulation [6].

The current fee for storage is $19.55 per day within the Lower Mainland and Victoria, and $16.10 per day in the rest of the province. The towing fees (for an average car) are $78.89 for the first 6.0 kilometre, with per kilometre charges for any additional distance.

What are the consequences of a 24-hour prohibition?

The prohibition will stay on your record. Drivers with three 24-hour prohibitions will be required to participate in the Responsible Driver Program and the Ignition Interlock Program, which are remedial programs for impaired drivers.

Can you challenge the Prohibition?

Yes, you may request a review of a 24-hour prohibition from the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles in writing using the Application for Review of a 24-Hour Prohibition form, available at any driver licensing office only on the following grounds:

  • the police officer failed to administer a blood alcohol test when requested;
  • you were not the driver or did not have care or control of the vehicle.

There is an application fee, which must be paid when submitting your application. There is no provision for a waiver of this fee and the fee will not be refunded after a review has been conducted, regardless of the outcome. The result of the decision will be mailed to you and the suspension will either be revoked and removed from your driving record, or upheld. Review decisions are final and binding, though they are subject to judicial review in B.C. Supreme Court.

What should I do if I am pulled over and have to take a roadside test?

If you have been stopped by a peace officer and you register a warning or fail on a roadside test, or the test is not working properly and you have not been drinking you may want to ask the officer for a test on an approved device (breathalyzer) at the nearest station. These devices are more accurate and if you think the roadside test is displaying an incorrect result, a breathalyzer may help. If the officer refused to allow you to take a test on an approved device, you have grounds for the decision to be reviewed.

If you have any traffic or legal issue, it’s strongly recommended that you consult a lawyer who practices law in your jurisdiction.


1. Bill 4 (2009) Wills, Estates and Succession Act. Available at: [1] Motor Vehicle Act, RSBC 1996, c 318, Part 4, s. 215.

2. R. v. Wolff (1979), 9 B.C.L.R. 390 (C.A.).

3. R. v. Orbanski; R. v. Elias, 2005 SCC 37, [2005] 2 SCR 3, R. v. Thomsen [1988] 1 S.C.R. 64, Section 254(2) of the Criminal Code

4. R. v. Orbanski; R. v. Elias, 2005 SCC 37, [2005] 2 SCR 3.

5. Lien on Impounded Motor Vehicle Regulation, B.C. Reg. 262/2010.

Personal injury attorney
13 Different Types of Personal Injury Lawyers
Mechanic working on car in garage
16 Different Types of Mechanics for All Types of Motorized Vehicles and Equipment
Cleint meets with personal injury lawyer
17 Things to Know Before Hiring a Personal Injury lawyer
Disability Insurance Form Application
How to Initiate a Disability Claim in BC After Car Accident
Role of executor
Your Role as Will Executor in British Columbia
Last will and testament with gavel
Common Grounds for Challenging a Will in British Columbia
Last will and testament
What Happens When a Will Is Damaged or Lost?
Vancouver courthouse downtown
When Can BC Courts Deny a Wills Variation Act Claim?
Divorce judge gavel on table
10 of the Best Online Divorce Services for a DIY Divorce in the USA
Wedding rings and divorce document
5 Top Canadian Online Divorce Services to Get a DIY Divorce
Josh Duhamel and Fergie
30 High Profile Celebrity Divorces and Splits from 2018 and 2017
Divorce document torn up and wedding rings apart
The Different Types of Divorce in Canada
Gavel with stand and handcuffs on the wooden background.
10 Different Types of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Handcuffed hands on a table beside packaged drugs
24 Countries That Have the Death Penalty for Drug Trafficking
: A young woman sitting on a vintage chair and watching TV
20 Best Crime Drama TV Shows
Man stealing a painting
25 of the Biggest Art Heists of All Time
A little boy goes to the doctor
11 Different Types of Health Insurance
: opting for dental insurance
7 Types of Dental Insurance for You and Your Family
a man completing a wooden model of a house by inserting a wooden block on which “insurance” is written
The 2 Types of Renters Insurance Plus the What, Who and Why
9 Different Types of Insurance