• The Unsettling Unfairness of the IRP Regime
  • February 11, 2013
  • Law Firm: Michaels Filkow - Richmond Office
  • On September 20, 2010, the Province of British Columbia radically altered the regulatory and criminal law responses to drinking and driving by bringing into force a new regime for imposing automatic administrative penalties, including immediate driving prohibitions. Implemented by ss. 215.41 to 215.51 of the Motor Vehicle Act,1 this immediate roadside prohibition (IRP) regime had two broad purposes. First, the regime aimed to impose immediate driving prohibitions and a panoply of related penalties on drivers who had been drinking, including those whose blood alcohol concentration was below the criminal level. Second, the Province sought to utilize the IRP regime, instead of the criminal law process, for all but the most serious drinking and driving matters, thereby saving money and reducing strain on the criminal justice system. The “double-punch” policy underlying the IRP regime - ratcheting up the attack on drinking and driving and racking up huge savings by avoiding criminal investigations and prosecutions - was no doubt seen by the Government as a big political winner with the public. Now, two years after the regime was implemented, thousands of drivers have been subjected to the serious penalties mandated by the IRP scheme, and drivers, who formerly would have been dealt with under the criminal system, and many others besides, are now being subject to IRPs instead. In effecting this dramatic shift, the Government surely had a moral obligation to ensure a fair system. Thoughtful individuals are unsettled by the policy as justice should be effected according to legal approaches which are fair to individuals who become implicated in the system. The IRP regime seriously compromises the ability of individuals to take meaningful issue with the process, an unfairness that falls most heavily on those least able to weather the impact of the prohibitions and penalties meted out. This paper will canvas why this is so.