Drivers are winning IRP reviews: BC Supreme Court

I keep an eye open for IRP judicial reviews in BC Supreme Court because these judgments often reveal ways of winning IRP reviews.  In a recently published decision, a law firm fought to strike down a 2016 amendment to the IRP law.


Lemieux v. The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles:

The legal firm argued the revised law made it impossible for a driver to win an IRP review. Consequently, the government lawyers responded by providing statistics to refute that position, and these statistics were  thought-provoking.

Why do so few drivers challenge the IRP?

Over the 4 calendar years of 2013 to 2016, approximately 1,000 IRPs were issued each month. The driver requested an IRP review in about 24% of the issued IRPs. That’s not  a very high percentage especially when one considers an IRP is a major inconvenience, if not a costly event, in the life of a driver. The 90 day prohibition, 30 day impoundment, towing and storage fees, mandatory Responsible Driver Program, penalties, fines, and higher insurance fees, etc. all add up to a pretty hefty financial hit. In spite of the costs, surprisingly few drivers challenge the IRP.

Winning IRP reviews:

The government stats showed the amended law had little effect on the numbers of successfully revoked IRPs, and consequently the Supreme Court upheld the amended law. However, the really interesting part was the revocation rate. A lot of IRP appeals are successful! IRPs are revoked in about 35% of the the reviews. This means the driver’s licence and vehicle are returned, and all fees and penalties refunded. Every revoked IRP costs the government money and it must have been painful to concede they lose every third review!

The real mystery is why 76% of drivers don’t ask for an IRP review.  A 1 in 3 chance of winning is pretty good odds to me. Imagine buying lottery tickets weekly and winning every third week!   Reviewing every IRP would see four times as many IRPs revoked and that would mean hundreds every month.  That thought must keep the government awake at night.

Flaws and gaps in IRP evidence:

The judge wrote:

“A driver who applies to set aside an IRP under Version 3 must tender evidence or point to a flaw or a gap in the evidence tendered by the police”.

So what are the flaws and gaps in the IRP evidence?  The judge didn’t say. However, with 1 out of every 3 IRPs being revoked there must be a lot of errors out there waiting to be uncovered.

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