212,000 Reasons not to Drive Drunk
Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, illustrating the potentially steep financial consequences of impaired driving.
In today’s case (Hamman v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was involved in a rear end crash. He was the offending motorist. He was insured by ICBC but was denied coverage for the crash due to allegations of impaired driving. An occupant in the faultless vehicle was injured and ICBC ultimately settled the claim for $212,000.
ICBC then sought repayment from the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff sued ICBC arguing they should not have denied coverage. Mr. Justice Kent disagreed and ordered the plaintiff pay back ICBC the full amount, plus interest and court costs. In upholding the breach of insurance the Court provided the following reasons:
 I have no hesitation in concluding that Mr. Hamman was severely impaired by alcohol at the time of the accident. His explanation of his activities that day and the amount of alcohol he had consumed is confused and unconvincing. At the scene of the accident he appeared “out of it”. He smelled of alcohol and he displayed significant comprehension difficulties. He failed the roadside alcohol screening test.
 It was a relatively clear night and the road surface was dry. The highway was relatively straight. The construction zone was illuminated by lights and a flashing arrow merger sign. There was nothing to diminish the visibility of either the construction zone or the numerous vehicles that had come to a stop before it without incident.
 At the police station he was noted to have slurred speech, flushed complexion, and blood-shot eyes. He was falling asleep both in the police car and eventually at the police station itself.
 And then, of course, there are the blood-alcohol readings obtained through the Data Master breath testing. Those readings, .17% and .18% reflect substantial intoxication by alcohol. They also put the lie to Mr. Hamman’s claim that he had only consumed a couple drinks on the evening in question. That level of intoxication also explains Mr. Hamman’s difficulties with visual perception (depth and distance) and inability to first notice and then react to the otherwise clearly visible vehicles stopped on the highway ahead of him at the construction zone.
 The evidence is overwhelming, and I have no hesitation in finding as a fact, that at the time of the accident Mr. Hamman was driving his vehicle under the influence of alcohol to such an extent that he was incapable of its proper control. In doing so he breached the terms and conditions of his insurance policies and his liability coverage for the accident was rightly denied by ICBC.
 Mr. Hamman’s action is dismissed. ICBC’s counterclaim is allowed and damages are awarded to ICBC against Mr. Hamman in the amount of $212,000 together with interest pursuant to the Court Order Interest Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 79.
bc injury law, breach of insurance, Hamman v. ICBC, Mr. Justice Kent