If you are charged with and convicted of a criminal offence, you get a criminal record. Your criminal record is not necessarily for life. After a period of time, a person is eligible to apply for a criminal record suspension, also known as a pardon. This is a fair and reasonable process, because people change. As you grow older and move on with your life, the drunk driving charge you got when you were twenty doesn't necessarily reflect the circumstances you have at age thirty five, when you've got children and a steady job. Your criminal record shouldn't follow you forever and impede your ability to travel and obtain employment.
But in British Columbia, your driving record does follow you everywhere. And unlike a criminal record, which is arguably far more serious than a driving record, there is no such thing as a pardon for your driving record.
Your driving record is forever.
If you order a copy of your driver's abstract from ICBC, you may not be able to see the speeding ticket you got when you were sixteen and driving your friend to the mall. This is because your driver's abstract shows only a snapshot of your driving history. However, if you are charged with a driving-related criminal offence, or you are in traffic court to dispute a traffic ticket, or you are stopped by police, or you are passing through the border your entire driving record is visible and present. That speeding ticket from when you were sixteen (and also a young offender) is visible and can be considered by the police, border officer, prosecutor, and judge when dealing with your case.
Now, if you've had a speeding ticket fifteen years ago and nothing since, it's unlikely that anyone will think much about it at all. But what if you have had an Immediate Roadside Prohibition? Or a 24-Hour Prohibition for drugs? Now your driving record records an incident like a "DUI" or a drug-related "offence." As we know from previous blog posts, a 24-Hour Prohibition for drugs can keep you from entering the United States for life. And yet there is no process to remove these matters from your driving record after a significant period of time has passed.
It's abhorrent that ICBC and the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles RoadSafetyBC office do not allow for a driving record pardon. What's worse is that they have also taken the position that anyone who received an Immediate Roadside Prohibition for blowing a "Fail" under the unconstitutional law should continue to have those prohibitions reflected on their driving records. So even though the Government wrote a bad law, and even though you've served all of the consequences, paid all of the fines, and moved on five years later, you still have a permanent black mark on your driving record.
How is this fair? How can it be that a driving record, which is supposed to be evidence of a person's driving skills and ability to follow regulatory laws, can be more prejudicial and more permanent than a criminal record? Even after the Harper Government passed the changes to the Criminal Record Review Act that eliminated a lot of the pardon processes, there was still the opportunity to obtain a record suspension. I know that the BC Government has been labelled as bad or worse than the Harper Government, but even this is nonsense.
So what do you do if you're charged with a driving offence or you receive a prohibition for alcohol or drugs? If you pay your ticket, that's it. You're done. You cannot dispute the ticket unless there was a miscarriage of justice. And if you don't dispute it within thirty days, then you're deemed guilty. Under the new traffic court system that BC is introducing, there will be many more convictions for traffic related offences after disputes, because the rights and protections of a court system are being stripped away.
For Immediate Roadside Prohibitions, it's worse. You have only seven days to dispute it, and if you miss those seven days then too bad for you. You're stuck with it. Forever. You cannot apply to BC Supreme Court to have the IRP removed from your driving record, even if the statutory requirements for the IRP have not been complied with by the officer. Of course, the BC Government would have you believe otherwise. But they fought against a person's right to do that when they were challenged on that position.
There is only one way to remove an IRP from your driving record. There is only one way to remove a ticket from your driving record. There is only one way to remove a 24-Hour Prohibition from your driving record. And that is to successfully dispute it.
There should be a process in place by which a person can obtain a form of pardon for something on their driving record. No person should have to live with the consequences of a DUI for life, when they were not convicted of a criminal offence. Or even an offence at all. And no person should have to live with the consequences of a DUI for life when the system that allows for review gives you only seven days to make that decision. But the BC Government does not care. They do not want to implement a process that will allow you to remove your IRP from your driving record, even five years later.
Vancouver Criminal Lawyer with a focus on impaired driving, cannabis legalization and related issues, and immediate roadside prohibition defence.