Drinking & Driving Part II: Financial Consequences

In my last post, I discussed the loss of life and serious injuries caused bythose who drive while impaired. But are you aware that you could lose your house and face bankruptcy if you injure someone while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol?

Driving while impaired violates a driver’s insurance contract with ICBC. Section 55(8) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation says your insurance will not protect you if you operate a vehicle while under the influence of liquor, drugs, or another intoxicating substance to such an extent that you are incapable of proper control of the vehicle.

ICBC will sue the impaired driver to recover the amounts paid out to the victim. In some cases this could be well over $1 million.

Those injured by an impaired driver may also be entitled to additional damages known as punitive damages. In Whiten v. Pilot, the Supreme Court of Canada says that punitive damages can be awarded if there is a “high-handed, malicious, arbitrary or highly reprehensible misconduct that departs to a marked degree from ordinary standards of decent behaviour.”

ICBC will not pay punitive damages. The impaired driver must pay.

Impaired drivers who cause an accident face a fine or even time in jail. They will have a criminal record. They will lose their right to drive for a significant period of time. If someone is injured in the accident, there is no insurance to pay the damages and the impaired driver could face bankruptcy.

Do you need a better reason to never drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol?

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James Buckley
James was part of the team of lawyers who joined Tony and Mike at the start up of Slater Vecchio LLP in 1998. James has only ever practiced in the area of plaintiff’s personal injury law.