British Columbia

They tried to impound her Land Rover. Now they want to take it away

B.C.'s director of civil forfeiture wants to seize the Land Rover of an alleged scofflaw driver before she hurts somebody.

B.C.'s director of civil forfeiture claims Jie Cui's driving habits likely to result in bodily harm

RCMP caught Jie Cui speeding in the southern Interior city of Merritt in April 2019. But according to B.C.'s director of civil forfeiture, she fled when they told Cui they wanted to impound her Land Rover. (Matthew Howard/CBC)

When Merritt RCMP clocked Jie Cui for speeding in April, officers also told her they'd have to impound her 2018 Land Rover for seven days.

According to B.C.'s director of civil forfeiture, the Richmond woman didn't take the news well.

"Ms.Cui fled from the traffic stop in the vehicle and drove westbound on Highway 97C," the director says in a notice of civil claim.

"Ms.Cui refused to stop for the Merritt RCMP, despite the Merritt RCMP activating emergency lights. The Merritt RCMP observed Ms.Cui drive the vehicle dangerously, including over a grass median and onto Highway 5."

'Likely to cause serious bodily harm'

Cui made it out of Merritt and back down the Lower Mainland. She was arrested more than a month later in White Rock.

But the government now wants to seize her Land Rover as an "instrument of unlawful activity" — citing the accused scofflaw's driving record as evidence she's "likely to cause serious bodily harm" if someone doesn't take away her keys.

The director of civil forfeiture filed a lawsuit against Cui this week in a bid to take the Land Rover, which she leased in 2019.

B.C.'s director of civil forfeiture has filed a B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit against Jie Cui, alleging that her 2018 Land Rover is an instrument of unlawful activity. (David Horemans/CBC)

The claim isn't the first time the B.C. government has pointed to a person's driving record as evidence they represent a danger to the public. They lost a case against a motorcyclist in 2013 because they couldn't establish a threat.

In the case against Cui, the director of civil fofeiture claims she had a youth and another adult passenger in her vehicle when she fled RCMP after she was caught going 166 km/h in a 110 km/h zone.

The same youth was allegedly a passenger in a 2015 Lexus that hit a concrete barrier and flipped in July 2016 when it was being driven by Cui's former spouse.

She was also charged with failing to stop for police in August 2016.

And in February 2017, Cui was charged with using an electronic device while driving in Vancouver.

Evidence needed

B.C.'s Civil Forfeiture Act allows the province to file suit against property linked to unlawful activity, regardless of whether or not a person has been convicted or even charged with a crime.

To win, the director of civil forfeiture has to establish that the property in question is either the proceeds of crime or an instrument of unlawful activity.

According to court records, Cui was charged with flight from police, dangerous operation of a conveyance, excessive speeding and resisting a police officer.

In 2013, B.C.'s director of civil forfeiture lost a bid to seize a Ducati based on an argument that the driver was likely to cause serious bodily harm through excessive speeding. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Her next appearance is in July. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

In 2013, the director of civil forfeiture lost a bid to take a Ducati motorcycle away from a 40-year-old driver who had committed 39 driving offences over two decades — including going at speeds in excess of 200 km/h in a 60 km/h zone.

In that case, the judge said evidence was needed "of the circumstances surrounding the commission of the speeding offences that could lead the court to find that serious bodily harm to a person was a likely result."

The motorcyclist argued that "the road where he accelerated to about 200 kph was long and straight; the weather was sunny and clear with good visibility; the road surface was dry; there were no other vehicles on the road or in sight; there were no pedestrians on the road or in sight; and the Ducati was in perfect working condition."

The judge said he wasn't condoning speeding, but in the case at hand could not conclude that the practice should result in the man losing his prized motorcycle.

Cui has not filed a response to the director of civil forefeiture's claim.

About the Author

Jason Proctor

@proctor_jason

Jason Proctor is a reporter in British Columbia for CBC News and has covered the B.C. courts and mental health issues in the justice system extensively.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.