Questions about the Notice of Intent to Prohibit you were too afraid to ask

Receiving a Notice of Intent to Prohibit letter can be stressful

If the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles thinks your driving record is poor you can expect to receive a letter known as a Notice of Intent to Prohibit (NOI). The process is triggered when you are convicted of a motor vehicle offence after receiving a traffic ticket.

The purpose of the letter is to notify you that you are facing an impending driving prohibition and to give you an opportunity to respond.

At Acumen Law, we prepare countless submissions for clients who have received NOIs and we regularly receive phone calls from worried drivers who have just received a letter and now have a lot of questions about the NOI process.

We have prepared answers to some of the questions we are most frequently asked about NOIs, including what you should do if you receive one of the letters in the mail.

I have received a Notice of Intent to Prohibit letter, what should I do?

The first thing you should do when you receive a Notice of Intent to Prohibit is note the date of the letter. If you hope to contest the letter you must have filed your completed submission within 21 days of the date on the letter. If you fail to file your response within the 21 days, the Superintendent will automatically confirm the prohibition. You can fight the prohibition after the 21 days, however, the suspension will remain in place until the appeal has been decided.

The sheer number of NOIs that are issued means that a delegate of the Superintendent reviews the submissions and your driving. The delegate has the power to either uphold the driving prohibition, reducing the length of the suspension or cancel it altogether.

You can respond to the letter personally, however, your response is a legal submission and its content will determine whether your prohibition is upheld, reduced or tossed all together. It is therefore strongly recommended that you seek the help of a legal professional to give yourself the best chance of leniency.

What are my chances of successfully appealing against an NOI?

The most frequent questions we are asked about NOIs relate to the client’s odds of their application actually leading to a reduction or overturning a prohibition. Successfully appealing an NOI depends on the individual driver but there are a number of factors that can influence a delegate’s decision.

The important thing is to ensure the submissions cover the relevant considerations that the delegate regards as necessary to fulfil their legal mandate.

One of the main factors is your driving record. The delegate will examine your driving history in the last five years, but will particularly focus on the previous two years which is the most sensitive time period.

If you have been convicted of a high-risk driving infraction (cell phone tickets, excessive speeding, driving without due care and attention) the likelihood of the delegate being sympathetic will be significantly lower.

The likelihood of successfully challenging an NOI also depends on the particular delegate making the decision. This means there is, unfortunately, a lot of inconsistency in rulings.

The majority of NOIs are not overturned. Out of these cases that are not thrown out, however, the majority are reduced. Making a submission is most certainly worthwhile and hiring someone with experience of filing these types of submissions can significantly help your cause.

I have previous driving infractions, will this count against me?

Yes. The adjudicator will take into account such information as the period of time since the infraction or between infractions, previous warnings, probation periods or driving prohibitions, and if previous adjudicators have shown you leniency. Any previous penalty points will also count against you.

If you have shown any improvement in your driving record, however, adjudicators will also take this into account in your favour.

When does the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles issue an NOI?

The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles may issue an NOI if you have accumulated 15 or more penalty points in the last two years.

If an experienced driver accumulates three or more 24-hour prohibitions for alcohol or drug-related driving infractions within the space of two years they may also receive an NOI.

If an experienced driver receives two 24-hour prohibitions within two years, they will usually receive a warning letter. However, if they have other offences, convictions or prohibitions within that period, they may receive a Notice of Intent to Prohibit.

I have a clean driving record, can I still get an NOI for a first infraction?

Even one ticket or 24-hour driving prohibition can start the process where you will receive a Notice of Intent to Prohibit letter telling you that RoadSafetyBC intends to take away your license.

For the most part, NOIs serve as a warning for the driver to improve their behaviour so it will generally take at least a few infractions before you receive a letter. However, anyone who commits two or more of the following “high-risk” driving offences with a one-year period will likely be issued an NOI:

  • excessive speed
  • driving without due care and attention
  • driving without reasonable consideration
  • use of an electronic device while driving
  • emailing or texting while driving

I am a novice driver, am I more likely to get an NOI?

Yes. New drivers, regardless of age, are at a higher risk of causing a crash than experienced drivers, according to RoadSafetyBC. For this reason, the threshold for intervention with new drivers is lower than it is for experienced motorists.

If you are a novice driver (if you still have an ‘N’-sign) it only takes two penalty points before you are issued an NOI. This threshold is so low that if you commit virtually any offence as a novice driver, you will receive an NOI. For example, if you receive a ticket for running a red light at an intersection, you will get two penalty points, so you can expect an NOI through your letterbox.

If a new driver commits any alcohol or drug-impaired driving infractions and receives an Immediate Roadside Prohibition, 12-hour prohibition or 24-hour prohibition, they may also receive an NOI.

My livelihood depends on my ability to drive, will the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles show me more leniency?

Possibly, yes. The adjudicator will take into account a driver’s personal situation when making a decision. Probably the most important factor affecting their ruling is whether the motorist’s employment depends on their ability to drive.

Other considerations that can count in your favour include whether you attend a school or training program which you need a car to attend. If the prohibition would hamper your ability to help your family also counts towards your appeal to a lesser degree, such as if you needed to travel to from home to look after your children. Things like if you have a medical condition, if you participate in volunteer work and if there is a lack of public transport in your area can also affect the decision.

What if I ignore or do not read the letter?

We do not recommend you take an ignorance is bliss attitude to an NOI letter. The driving prohibition will automatically begin 21 days after the date on the letter, whether you have read it or not.

Your prohibition would then start either from when you surrender your licence or when you get pulled over by a cop and they take it from you.

If I miss the 21-day deadline, can I still appeal?

Yes, you can still appeal an NOI if you fail to make a submission before the 21-day deadline. The benefit of doing so within the 21-day limit is your prohibition will be put on hold for the time it takes to make a decision.

If you miss the deadline, you can still make an application but you will have your licence taken away from you until the delegate makes a ruling. The waiting time for a decision usually takes two to three months but lately, it has been taking even longer. This means you could be banned from the road for that entire length of time which may even be longer than the prohibition itself, so you would be unnecessarily punishing yourself.

The recent increase in waiting times may be the result of a backlog caused by the government’s recent campaign to clamp down on distracted driving.

What benefits are there to seeking professional help with an NOI submission?

We prepare submissions in response to NOIs for drivers from all parts of BC. Developing plans to address the particular concerns of the Superintendent is what we do. We collect the evidence necessary to prepare legal submissions to challenge the driving prohibition. It’s what we do. We have successfully defended thousands of driving prohibitions for BC drivers just like you.

If you have received an NOI, call us now. We want to make the best submissions to get you the best results possible. You can contact us here for a free consultation.

If you are on Vancouver Island, you can contact our Victoria office on 250-384-0100.

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