Everyone knows that drunk driving is a crime. But an aspect that most people fail to consider beyond the criminal consequences of impaired driving is the civil liability and the tremendous financial risk they subject themselves to if involved in an accident, especially if it results in serious injury or death.
Drivers in British Columbia who drive impaired may also be in breach of their contractual insurance agreement with ICBC.
What does this mean?
Well for starters, the circumstances may lead ICBC to take the position that by driving impaired you breached your own insurance coverage. In other words, your behaviour might have disentitled you to coverage under that million-dollar policy agreement.
The Consequences of a Breach of Coverage
So while ICBC may have an interest or an obligation to participate in certain claims, ICBC does not have a duty to defend an impaired driver who has breached their own contractual obligations. If ICBC chooses to become involved in a legal action ICBC represents itself and not the driver, as is often misunderstood. ICBC may then pursue the impaired driver for any amounts it paid out to the injured party. ICBC wields considerable power to go after the impaired driver for all costs associated with defending the lawsuit, as well as costs for injuries sustained to the innocent parties and their property.
Furthermore given that ICBC is the only provider of driver’s licenses in British Columbia, if you owe them a debt, they can simply refuse to issue you a driver’s license until all of the money you owe them is paid back.
Moreover, any costs related to vehicle repairs will not be covered by ICBC and will have to borne by the impaired driver.
Clearly, the civil consequences of breaching your ICBC insurance can prove to be very significant, in addition to possible criminal consequences. Even if you could fight the criminal aspects of an impaired charge on a technical defence, the burden of proof in a civil injury claim is lower and easier to meet. Finally, there is the reality that a decision to drink and drive can result in an accident that can ruin and end lives. In consideration of all of this, the risks of impaired driving are more than considerable. Take care on the road.The information provided above is for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace the advice of a lawyer or address specific situations. Your personal situation should be discussed with a lawyer. If you have any questions or concerns, contact a legal professional.