Friday, November 21st2.8°C
Behind The Wheel

Impaired operation of a motor vehicle

With all the advertising in the media about impaired driving everyone should know not to drive their car or truck while under the influence. But what about other conveyances?

There are quite a few ways to run afoul of the impaired legislation. Section 253 of the Criminal Code starts out with “Every one commits an offence who operates a motor vehicle, or vessel, or operates or assists in the operation of an aircraft...while...impaired by alcohol or a drug.” Let's examine the motor vehicle portion of that. A motor vehicle is defined as a vehicle that is drawn, propelled or driven by any means other than muscular power, but does not include a vehicle of a railway that operates on rails.

A moment of thought can come up with all sorts of motor vehicles. Forklifts, snowmobiles, golf carts, mopeds, earthmovers, skidders, backhoes, lawn mowers, tractors, combines, electric wheelchairs and more. The list is only limited by our ability to put a motor on it.

A person might be tempted to comment that most of the examples in the previous paragraph don’t normally operate on a highway. Well, neither do vessels or aircraft and it is an offence to operate them while impaired. In fact, being on a highway doesn’t even enter into the picture. It is possible to be convicted for doing circles in your backyard on a snowmobile in January or zooming down the fairway in a golf cart in June if you are impaired.

A closer reading of the section will even show that a person can be convicted of impaired operation with a blood alcohol content less than .08!

If you are going to consume alcohol or take prescription or non-prescription drugs consider carefully before you operate any conveyance with a motor.


The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, visit


Driving with collision damage

You’ve been involved in a fender bender and now your vehicle is damaged. The headlight is pointing at the sky, the signal light is missing and the bumper had to be removed so that the tire has room to steer. The appointment with an insurance adjuster is pending, and you can’t even think about the body shop yet. Can you just keep driving until the vehicle is repaired?

Strictly speaking, the answer is no. Division 2.02 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations applies to a vehicle on a highway that ceases to be properly equipped as required by the Act or Regulations as a result of collision or breakdown. The vehicle must be removed from the highway forthwith and may only be removed or taken to a place of repair by a tow truck or other vehicle capable of safely carrying out the movement.

The tow truck may move a vehicle that is not properly equipped if the driver takes reasonable precaution for the safety of other traffic.

If you prefer to remove the vehicle yourself, you would have to turn it into cargo by loading it onto a trailer or flatdeck. Using a towing dolly or other device such as a tow bar or chain would amount to operating the vehicle on a highway. Operation requires that the vehicle be properly equipped in all respects.


The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit

Crossing highway lines to park

An Osoyoos resident has asked about parking in the downtown area.  There is angle parking on both sides of the main street, and the street is marked with a double solid yellow line down the center.  He is concerned about vehicles crossing the oncoming lane to park on the left side of the street. 

When a highway is marked with a line of any type between lanes, single or double, yellow or white, broken or solid, traffic must keep to the right of it.  So how does a driver properly go to the left side of a line?

In the case of a double solid line there is only one exception, and that is when entering or leaving the highway.

In the case of a single solid or single broken line, a driver may cross over to enter or leave the highway, to pass another vehicle, or to avoid an obstacle on the highway.

Finally, there is the case of a combination of solid and broken lines.  These may be crossed to enter and leave the highway and to avoid an obstacle on the highway.  They may also be crossed to start passing when the broken line is on the right side, and to complete a pass when the broken line is on the left side.

When entering or leaving the highway across lines, a driver must do so safely and not unreasonably affect the travel of another vehicle.  When crossing lines to pass or to avoid obstacles a driver must do so in safety and must not affect the travel of another vehicle in any way.

Since taking a parking space on the left side of the highway marked with lines is not leaving or entering, avoiding an obstacle, or passing another vehicle, the move is illegal and could result in the driver being ticketed.


Notice & order #2

Over the course of my service in traffic law enforcement I saw many things that made me shake my head. Examples include a pickup truck that had a rope strung through the vent windows and tied to the windshield wipers so that they could be operated by the passenger; another pickup with black plastic tape stuck over the brake warning light so that the brightness would not bother the driver at night; and a car had no working lights on the rear because ICBC had not arranged for collision repairs yet. Admittedly, these are extreme examples but there are many vehicles on our highways that are not being properly maintained by their owners.

I had developed a routine that involved a circle from the driver's door forward around the vehicle and back again. Once completed I had a fairly good idea whether the defects were minor in nature (a box 3), worthy of an immediate tow (a box 1) or somewhere in between. That would call for a "box 2" which required that the vehicle be promptly presented at a Designated Inspection Facility. If the inspector identified defects, they had to be repaired immediately and a passed inspection report submitted to Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement within 30 days.

If the 30 day period expired without a pass report, ICBC would flag the vehicle licence record. If police subsequently found the vehicle being driven on the highway the vehicle licence and number plates could be seized and the driver issued a violation ticket with a significant penalty. The system insures that the vehicle is repaired.

Should the owner decide that it was not worth repairing the vehicle, they simply cancelled the vehicle licence, effectively removing it from the road and it could be disposed of with no further enforcement costs. If the buyer wanted to licence it, the ICBC flag remained and no vehicle related transactions would be allowed until a pass report was issued.

I liked to use this method rather than immediately issuing a violation ticket for driving a defective vehicle. It allowed the driver or owner to spend the money that would have gone to the ticket on the inspection and repair process and I was assured that vehicle maintenance would be done.

Read more Behind the Wheel articles


About the author...

Tim Schewe has been writing his column for most of the 20 years in his traffic enforcement service in the RCMP. It was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and now Schewe retired from the Force in January of 2006, but the column became a habit and continues.

E-mail him your questions or concerns: [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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