Vancouver Attorney’s Office to pilot equity-based changes to its prosecution practices.

31 Dec 2020

Press Release Date:

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Beginning January 2021, the Vancouver City Attorney’s Office will make equity-based changes to the way it prosecutes the crime of driving while license suspended in the third degree (DWS-III) as part of a year-long pilot program.

DWS-III charges often arise due to a driver’s failure to pay fines from a traffic ticket. Trends increasingly suggest DWS-III charges cause disproportionate impacts to Black, Indigenous and people of color within the community, as well as those who are of low or moderate financial means.

“The Vancouver City Attorney’s Office is committed to advancing our understanding of who is, and is not, benefitting from the institutions our society has created,” said City Attorney Jonathan Young, “Where possible, we seek opportunities to lawfully balance and repair inequities that exist in our systems.”

The 2021 DWS-III pilot program will bring two important changes to the City Attorney’s Office’s prosecution practices:

  • Individuals charged with DWS-III who meet certain requirements will have the opportunity to participate in a pre-citation diversion program designed to educate and empower unlicensed drivers to get their license back. If completed, no charges will be filed.
  • Where appropriate, prosecution standards for those who do not choose to participate in the pre-citation diversion program will call for the use of civil tickets, rather than criminal, charges.

These changes are particularly significant as DWS-III cases account for a quarter of all criminal cases filed by the city.

After one year, the City Attorney’s Office will review the results of the pilot program and decide if further changes are needed or if the changes will be made permanent.

For more information on this change, read a more detailed fact sheet.

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