Improperly Modified and Defective Vehicles

Problems with vehicles can range from overdue maintenance to modifications that may be described as fashion over function. Responsibility for their correction rests principally with the owner and driver. When that fails, it now falls to the police and designated inspection facilities to either nudge or force correction. Depending on the severity of the defects, remedies can range from a simple reminder to a tow truck and seizure of the vehicle license and number plates.


Even with limited use, our vehicles eventually wear out and break down. Our legislators have established rules that must be met in order to rent or legally operate a vehicle on the highway. In general, they are contained in the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations and the Vehicle Inspection Regulation.

Unfortunately, the Vehicle Inspection Regulation is exempt from publication and is not freely available to access. You can buy a copy of it, purchase on line access or possibly read it at your local library.

The first onus is on the driver or renter of a vehicle to insure that it is roadworthy before the key is turned. I've examined a daily pre-trip inspection required of commercial vehicle drivers in the article Is Your Vehicle Mecanically Fit?

We're not required to periodically examine our personal passenger vehicles in this fashion and many of us lack the necessary skills and knowledge to do so, but it is still a good idea for someone to do it. Repair businesses often offer "free" vehicle inspections in spring and fall or will do it as part of minor paid maintenance such as oil changes. If you don't do your own maintenance this may be worthwhile to consider.

The owner may not be driving, but they are still required to exercise reasonable care and due diligence before they allow someone else to use their vehicle. There is even greater responsibility when it is driven by an employee.

If a vehicle is roadworthy at the beginning of a trip but becomes defective along the way, the rules require that it be removed from the highway without delay. If the vehicle can be safely driven, the removal and trip to the repair shop is not subject to the equipment regulations.

So, what happens when all of these responsiblities are ignored? Enforcement of vehicle repairs falls to the police.

The first tool available to law enforcement is the Notice & Order. Depending on the urgency of the required repair, box 1, 2 or 3 may be checked by the officer. Each places different requirements on the vehicle and recipient.

The least critical situation will result in a Notice & Order #3. It simply asks that the identified repairs be made immediately and that the vehicle be presented as indicated to insure that this had been done.

For more serious defects, a Notice & Order #2 will be issued. The vehicle must be promptly taken to a designated inspection facility for examination by an authorized inspector and all problems identified repaired within 30 days.

Notice & Order #1 is reserved for vehicles that are dangerous to operate. A tow truck will be called to remove the vehicle and it must not be parked or operated on a highway until it has undergone inspection, repairs have been made and a pass has been obtained.

ICBC flags the vehicle licence records for all vehicles subject to a Notice & Order #1 or #2. Autoplan Agents will refuse transactions related to the vehicle until the order has been complied with.

In addition, these flagged records are available to the police at roadside. Officers will follow up with further actions and charges, which could include towing and a $575 fine.