If a vehicle is deemed to have been operated by an impaired driver, Law Enforcement Officers in B.C. are now able to impound a vehicle in storage for up to 30 days. This can have a serious impact on an individual’s ability to work, or provide care to a family.

What happens to my car if I receive a 3-day or 7-day suspension?

If the officer thinks that the impoundment of your vehicle is necessary in order to prevent you from driving it during the prohibition, then your vehicle will be impounded for the 3-day or 7-day period, as the case may be.

What happens to my car if I receive a 30-day or 90-day suspension?

Then the officer MUST impound your vehicle for a 30 day period.

Do I have to pay for the towing, storage, and other related costs before I get my car back?

Yes.

What happens if I do not or cannot pay for the towing and storage costs, etc.?

Then those amounts will constitute a lien on your vehicle.  The tow company may then take action, up to and including selling your vehicle.

Is my car still impounded if I successfully appeal my suspension?

No. Successfully appealing the 3-day, 7-day, 30-day, or 90-day suspension will cancel or vary the impoundment accordingly.

Can I appeal the impoundment part of a 3-day or 7-day suspension?

No.

Can I appeal a 30-day impoundment if I am the owner of the car, but not the driver at the time it was impounded?

Yes. You have 15 days from the date of the impoundment to file an application for a review.

On what grounds would an appeal from the 30-day impoundment be successful if I am the owner, but not the driver?

If the 30-day impoundment was due to either a “warn” or a “fail” on a screening device, then the owner must satisfy the superintendent that either the car was taken without the knowledge or consent of the owner, or that the owner exercised “reasonable care and diligence” in entrusting the car to the driver.

I am the owner and the driver of the car at the time it was impounded for 30 days. Can I still appeal the impoundment?

If the 30-day impoundment was due to either a “warn” or a “fail” on a screening device, then no. However, there may be circumstances where you can apply for an early release of the vehicle (see below).

What happens if the impounded vehicle is the company car or a business vehicle?

The owner or someone authorized by the owner can apply for the release (within 15 days) of an impounded car as long as s/he holds a valid licence. The applicant will need to satisfy the superintendent that a substantial portion of the business income is dependent on the impounded vehicle, or that economic hardship would result to the business if the car is not released.

What if the impounded vehicle is the family car?

Anyone who is living with the owner may apply, within 15 days, for the release of the impounded car. The applicant will need to satisfy the superintendent that the applicant needs the car for work, school, or medical treatment AND that there is no reasonable alternative form of transportation, including public transportation.

What do I need to do to get my car back after the impoundment period?

If the impoundment was for 30 days or more, you must make an application to the superintendent, as well as pay the towing, storage, and other related costs. If the impoundment was for less than 30 days, no application need to be made, but you still need to pay the towing, storage, and related costs.

If I successfully appeal either the prohibition or impoundment, do I still need to pay the towing, storage, and related costs to the tow yard?

The superintendent MAY cover the costs of any wrongful impoundment. However, if the vehicle is released because it is the company car or a family vehicle (see above), the applicant will be responsible for the towing, storage, and related costs before the vehicle is released.