The Motor Vehicle Act sets out a legislative scheme by which motorists can have their licenses suspended.
This post sets out the specific provisions of the IRP legislation, explains how the scheme works, and why the IRP regime is often used in lieu of criminal charges in British Columbia. To fully understand why the IRP regime has displaced criminal proceedings, it is also necessary to understand the British Columbia Crown Counsel Policy that was brought into force at the same time as the IRP regime was implemented in 2010.
Why IRPs are Issued in Lieu of Criminal Charges
At the same time as the IRP regime came into effect, the BC Crown Counsel Office passed a policy that very significantly reduced the number of cases that would be approved for criminal prosecution in British Columbia. The policy recognizes the significant consequences imposed by the IRP regime on a driver who blows a “fail” or who fails or refuses without reasonable excuse to provide a breath sample into an Approved Screening Device. Those consequences are discussed in detail below. In recognition of these penalties, the policy provides that where a driver has been subjected to an IRP and related consequences, a prosecution for an impaired driving offence is generally not in the public interest unless aggravating circumstances apply. Those aggravating factors are set out in the policy and include: