Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if I’ve been involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident?

You have been in a motor vehicle accident involving at least two vehicles.  The most important thing you can do is look after the health of the persons involved.  After everyone’s injuries have been attended to, you are probably feeling very confused.

Your vehicle may have been towed away, and you don’t know what to do next.  Our Accident Assistant will help you get started!

Some things to remember about accidents:

  • If you are a member of the British Columbia Automobile Association and do not have insurance coverage for your vehicle, your membership will cover the cost of towing as outlined in your benefits brochure.
  • In the event that you are having your vehicle towed from an accident, remember that it is your right to choose which company will tow your car away.  (For example, if you would like to have BCAA cover the towing costs, you may request that BCAA attend the scene).  Even if you have insurance coverage, it is your right to request Totem Towing to attend the scene and tow your vehicle.

What are the requirements for picking up personal belongings or getting my vehicle out of the impound lot?

It is our responsibility to protect your vehicle and its contents while in our care.  When attending the towing compound to pick up personals or retrieve your vehicle, you must adhere to the following:

  • Owner or designate must show government issued picture identification.
  • A cash deposit must be paid prior to releasing any personal belongings from the vehicle, other than prescription medicine or eye glasses.
  • In order to retrieve your vehicle, the Towing & Storage charges must be paid in full.
  • Owner or designate must provide a valid driver’s license prior to driving vehicle out of compound.

What is the “Slow Down & Move Over” Law?


B.C. has a regulation under the Motor Vehicle Act to protect emergency workers – police officers, fire and ambulance personnel, tow truck operators, special police constables, conservation officers and park rangers — when they are attending incidents on the road. Drivers must ‘Slow Down Move Over’ when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle, from either direction, when it is on or beside an undivided highway and has its lights flashing. (If the highway is divided – for example, by a concrete median – vehicles travelling in the opposite direction are not required to slow down.)

If there is another lane going in the same direction drivers must move into the other lane to pass, if it is safe to do so and a police officer has not directed them to do otherwise. This gives emergency workers as much space as possible.

  • Drivers must slow their speed to:
    • 70km/h when in an 80km/h or over zone
    • 40km/h when in an under 80km/h zone
  • Drivers must always yield the right of way to approaching emergency vehicles that have their lights and siren on. Drivers who fail to yield to a moving emergency vehicle face a fine and penalty points.

Fines and Penalties

Failing to adjust your speed appropriately or failing to yield to the right-of-way (move over) of approaching emergency vehicles that have their lights and siren on can result in a fine and penalty points. To see the associated points and fines, go to ICBC’s webpage Fines and Penalty Points for B.C. Traffic Offences.

For more information, visit our Slow Down & Move Over video page.

What happens if my vehicle has been impounded under the Vehicle Impoundment Program?

The Vehicle Impoundment Program  is a road safety program that requires police to immediately impound the vehicles being operated by:

  • prohibited, suspended, and unlicenced drivers
  • excessive speeders
  • stunt drivers and street racers
  • under-licensed and improperly seated motorcyclists
  • impaired drivers (see ‘Immediate Roadside Prohibitions’ fact sheet on OSMV website)

See Vehicle Impound Program Fact Sheet.

Vehicle impoundments fall under the following: Immediate Roadside Prohibition Penalties imposed by the police.

Retrieving your Vehicle from the Impound Lot

  • Impoundment due to driving without a licence

If your vehicle was impounded because you or the person operating it was unlicensed at the time, your vehicle can be released once you or the person who operated it is issued with a new driver’s licence. To receive a driver’s licence a person must attend a Driver Services Centre. This option is not available if the driver was prohibited from driving. For further information, contact the Insurance Corporation of B.C.

  • 7 Days or Less Impoundment Period
    After the impoundment period ends, the owner of the vehicle will have to go to the impoundment lot to collect the vehicle. The owner will have to show their valid driver’s licence and pay all towing and storage costs before the vehicle will be released.
  • Over 7 Days Impoundment Period
    After the impoundment period ends, the owner of the vehicle, will have to first go to a driver licensing office with their valid driver’s licence and the Notice of Impoundment. A Request for Vehicle Release form will be completed and the licensing office will fax it to the impound lot. Then the owner must go the impoundment lot , show their valid driver’s licence and pay all towing and storage costs before the vehicle will be released.

Note: If the date on your Notice of Impoundment says your impoundment ends on a weekend or holiday, you may complete the Request for Vehicle Release form on the last business day before the weekend. If the impound lot is open then you may pick it up on the release date.

  • Can’t collect the vehicle yourself?
    If you are the vehicle owner but unable to collect the vehicle from the impound lot yourself, you may authorize someone else to retrieve it from the impoundment lot. First you must get an Owner’s Authorization form from a driver licensing office to complete. The person you authorize must take the completed and signed Owner’s Authorization and the Notice of Impoundment to the impound lot to retrieve the vehicle. That person must show his/her valid B.C. driver’s licence to the impound lot representative and pay all towing and storage cost.
  • If the vehicle was stolen and impounded
    In the case of stolen vehicles being impounded, owners may have the vehicles released from impoundment early after filing a stolen vehicle report with police; however owners are still responsible for paying the impound lot operator fees, including the cost of storage up until release.
  • If the vehicle is not reclaimed
    When impoundment period ends and the vehicle is not retrieved, the company that impounded the vehicle may apply to the Superintendent to dispose of the vehicle. If the towing and storage costs are outstanding on the vehicle that was impounded, the vehicle owner may be unable to apply for a driver’s licence or insure another vehicle until this debt to the impoundment company is paid.


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