Supervising an ‘L’ or ‘N’ Driver? Don’t Drink!

A 64-year-old grandfather was charged with impaired driving after letting his grandson, a learner driver, get behind the wheel.

Peter Norman had a few beers while gardening with friends. Later in the day, Norman’s grandson asked if he could drive to a nearby store for groceries. On their way back, they were stopped at an RCMP road check.

“They pulled me out of the car and gave me a breathalyzer,” said Norman. “I was put in the back seat of the police car. They took my licence away right there … then the tow truck showed up.”

Norman lost his licence for 90 days and paid over $2000 in fines and towing costs.

The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles reviewed Norman’s incident. In a letter to Norman, they said the purpose of the driver licensing program is “to teach drivers to separate drinking from driving and to protect public safety.”

“Whenever someone is the qualified supervisor of an ‘L’ or ‘N’ driver, it is expected that this person not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs to help ensure they can provide any necessary assistance or advice to the relatively new driver,” said Superintendent Sam MacLeod.

The following guidelines are found in ICBC’s Learn to Drive Smart manual:

You need to choose a supervisor who will be serious about helping you become a skilled, safe driver.

Here are some things to consider when choosing your supervisor:

    • Is this person ready to commit the time needed to practise?
    • Is this person a skilled, experienced driver? Your supervisor must have a valid Class 5 licence and meet supervisor age requirements shown later in this chapter.
    • Will this person provide a good example of safe driving? Can he or she be relied on not to drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs, speed or take other risks on the road?
    • Is this person able to get information and ideas across clearly?
    • Does he or she have the patience to guide you effectively?

Norman’s story is an unexpected warning to British Columbians that it’s not OK to drink and then pass the keys to a learner driver.

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Tony Vecchio, K.C.
Anthony (Tony) Vecchio, K.C., founded Slater Vecchio in January 1998. He has been counsel on some of the largest cases in British Columbia.