Governing Legislation and Resources for Motor Vehicle Law (13:II)
Motor vehicle law in BC is governed by several different pieces of legislation. This section briefly outlines these sections, and more information on the operation of this legislation is contained throughout the chapter.
A. Motor Vehicle Act
The Motor Vehicle Act, RSBC 1996, c 318, or “Motor Vehicle Act”, is the primary piece of provincial legislation (law) that creates offences related to operating a motor vehicle in British Columbia. The Motor Vehicle Act is a lengthy act, and it is not possible to provide a complete summary of all of its provisions in this chapter. This chapter endeavours to provide a summary of the most common Motor Vehicle Act issues, and to provide resources for further research.
B. Other Provincial Acts/ Regulations
- The Offence Act, RSBC 1996, c 338 provides a general procedure for handling all provincial offences.
- The Motor Vehicle Act Regulations, BC Reg 26/58, and the Violation Ticket Administration and Fines Regulation, BC Reg 89/97, detail penalties for specific offences.
- Motor vehicle law intersects with the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, RSBC 1996, c 231 and Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation, BC Reg 447/83. For more information, see Chapter 12: Automobile Insurance.
C. Criminal Code
The Canadian Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46, is the federal legislation that sets out most of the criminal offences in Canada, in ss. 249 to ss. 260. The Criminal Code sets out several criminal offences related to driving, details of which are set out later in this chapter. Further information on criminal offences and procedures in general can be found in Chapter 1: Criminal Law.
It is worth noting, as discussed above, that there is significant overlap between the Criminal Code driving offences and the Motor Vehicle Act. In appropriate circumstances, the Crown may stay the proceedings under federal (criminal) legislation if the accused is prepared to plead guilty to a corresponding or similar charge under provincial legislation. This is often in the accused’s best interest if the Crown has a strong case as no criminal record will result upon conviction of a provincial offence.
1. Online Resources
a) BC Ministry of Transportation/RoadSafetyBC Website
The Ministry, including its agency RoadSafetyBC, provides a wealth of online information on motor vehicle law, including information on the Motor Vehicle Act, driving prohibitions and suspensions.
b) ICBC Website
The ICBC website provides information on driver licensing.
c) University of Victoria Law Centre Guide to Defending Traffic Tickets
Although out of date, the Law Centre’s summary provides a useful overview of the process for disputing a Violation Ticket.
d) Lawyer Referral Service
The Lawyer Referral Service, operated by the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch, can provide referrals to lawyers practicing in the area of your issue. The first 30 minute consultation is $25, with fees after that point agreed between the lawyer and the client.
Individuals with specific questions related to motor vehicle law, or who are concerned about the effect of a ticket or conviction on them, should consult with a lawyer practicing in the area.
e) Legal Services Society/Legal Aid
Legal Aid is available to individuals who are faced with significant consequences after a criminal conviction. These include jail time, or immigration complications that could lead to deportation. Legal Aid is also available where individuals have a physical or mental condition, illness, or disability that makes it impossible for an individual to represent themselves.
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