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Impound appeals denied
A couple whose Ford Explorer was impounded for 30 days under the provisions of a B.C. Government policy remain without their vehicle, despite not having broken any law themselves.
Tom and Janice Granger’s vehicle was impounded Oct. 12 after they loaned the car to their grandson who, in anticipation of drinking, left the keys with a friend. Without his knowledge, two people took the keys and the vehicle. The driver was then pulled over by the RCMP in downtown Salmon Arm for suspected impaired driving.
The driver received a 90-day roadside prohibition and the Granger’s vehicle was immediately impounded for 30 days, as part of a Ministry of Justice program that requires the immediate impound of vehicles being operated by unlicensed, unsafe or impaired drivers.
The vehicle was reported as taken without consent the following morning, but by then it had already been towed and impounded. In addition to being without the vehicle for 30 days, it will cost the Grangers about $672 in towing and impound storage fees.
They appealed to the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles but were denied, although they have still not been told why. The ministry said the reasons will be presented to them by a mailed letter, which they have not yet received.
The Superintendent of Motor Vehicle’s office also declined to reveal the reason the appeal was denied to the Observer, citing privacy legislation. They indicated, however, that the RCMP could also authorize early release of the vehicle under the Motor Vehicle Act. They also say the Grangers could try to recoup their financial losses through the court system.
Following complaints to MLA Greg Kyllo’s office and the media, the Grangers received a call at 11 a.m. on Oct. 24 from the RCMP indicating the vehicle would be released early.
But at 3 p.m., another call from the police indicated this was a communication error between the RCMP and the Superintendent’s office and the vehicle would remain impounded.
The Grangers were visited by the RCMP later that evening. They say it was made clear to them that the only way the car would be released early was if their grandson agreed to make another statement to police and sign a document indicating he would appear in court as a witness.
Janice says her grandson, who has a prior criminal record, would not agree to appear in court, and indicates she can not force him to do so.
“I’m at my wits’ end with all the stress of this. I feel like the RCMP are holding my car hostage. We’re the registered owners here. The only one being penalized right now is us.”
Sgt. Carlos Tettolowski of the Salmon Arm RCMP denies the Granger’s allegation.
“The release of the vehicle was not cancelled because of the grandson, nor is it necessarily tied to his appearing in court,” Tettolowski said in an email to the Observer.
“I suppose if we look on the positive side in this, the police took an impaired driver off the road and located their vehicle before it was seriously damaged/destroyed; plus, nobody was seriously injured or killed. The cost would have been much higher if we had not.”
In the meantime, the Grangers say a family member of the passenger in the car has stepped forward to offer some financial help with a portion of the towing and impound costs. Despite this, the couple are frustrated and say this could happen to anyone.
“We are totally innocent. The car was taken and yet we are being treated like the criminals here. It’s not right.” says Tom.
The RCMP say the investigation into the situation is continuing.