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'Very sad': B.C. man had insurance, no licence during 21st impaired driving conviction

A 66-year-old B.C. man now has the highest number of impaired driving convictions even though he didn't have a valid driver's licence.
Roy Heide's blood alcohol level was two times over the legal limit and he was arrested after a motorcycle crash in Abbotsford on Aug. 15 2022. FACEBOOK

When a B.C. man received his 21st impaired driving conviction, he did not have a valid driver’s licence. He did, however, have an insured vehicle.

In August 2022, Roy Heide's blood alcohol level was two times over the legal limit. He was arrested after a motorcycle crash in Abbotsford. His passenger on the bike suffered serious injuries and Heide tried to flee the scene. 

On Dec.18, 2023, Heide pleaded guilty to impaired driving, driving while disqualified and driving while prohibited. 

“What's incredibly concerning is that this conviction represented Mr. Heide's 21st conviction for impaired driving, which is believed to be the single most conviction for impaired driving offences someone has received in Canadian history,” says Const. Art Stele, a spokesman for the Abbotsford Police Department.

At the time of his arrest, Heide was a prohibited driver in B.C., yet he was the registered owner of a motorcycle. 

"Heide did not have a valid driver’s licence at the time of the incident,” says Stele. 

Court records show a lengthy criminal past for Heide dating back to the late '90s in Victoria, where he was found guilty of operating a vehicle while impaired in 1998. In the years that followed, he was convicted of impaired driving offences in numerous locations on Vancouver Island. 

Prohibited to drive but insured? 

According to ICBC, a valid driver’s licence is required to operate a vehicle, but you do not need to have a valid driver’s licence to obtain insurance. 

"Insuring a vehicle is the responsibility of the registered owner of the vehicle rather than the driver and therefore a valid driver’s licence isn’t required to obtain insurance,” says a spokesperson for the Crown corporation.

People who have serious driving convictions can still have insurance, but they have to pay more.

"Serious driving convictions, such as impaired driving, result in increased premiums after the first conviction,” says the spokesperson. 

Police state if a person is operating a vehicle while impaired and does not have a driver's licence, the person is either arrested under the Criminal Code or detained and demanded to provide a breath sample. 

"The decision whether or not a person faces jail time is independent of police and in the hands of the justice system, yet we often times see jail sentences issued when a person has a lengthy criminal history of impaired driving, causes significant injury and/or death as a result of their action,” says Stele. 

A spokesperson for the BC Prosecution Service tells Glacier Media Crown counsel will apply a two-part test to determine whether criminal charges will be approved and a prosecution initiated. 

"Crown counsel must independently, objectively, and fairly measure all available evidence against a two-part test,” says the spokesperson. 

Counsel must determine whether there is a substantial likelihood of conviction; and, if so, whether the public interest requires a prosecution.

"To obtain a conviction, the Crown must establish the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Heide received a sentence of four years and 354 days in jail for the Abbotsford crash.

During a 2001 incident in Nanaimo, Heide was found guilty of impaired driving causing bodily harm, failure to stop at an accident with a person and operating a vehicle while disqualified.

ICBC has a driver risk premium (DRP) that people must pay if they’ve had one or more driving-related Criminal Code convictions, two or more roadside suspensions, one or more 10-point Motor Vehicle Act convictions and one or more excessive speeding convictions. 

"DRP is separate from Autoplan insurance premiums, which means high-risk drivers get billed, regardless of whether they own or insure a vehicle,” says the spokesperson. 

A 'very sad' record for B.C. 

Heide posted several times publicly on social media about his struggle with addiction and alcohol. 

In September 2020, he claimed to be a changed person.

“Yes, I’ve been evil, yes I’ve been [an] alcohol abuser, yes I’ve likely [hurt] people along my path, but today as alcohol has not played a role in my life for a long time, I am a changed person,” reads a Facebook post. A month later, Heide shared "me and alcohol have had a serious divorce and never to have a relationship again" and that he was part of a 12-step program.

MADD Canada CEO Steve Sullivan says this case is a very sad record for B.C. 

"I do hope that this individual is offered treatment as part of any sanction — the best protection society will have from him is if he changes his behaviour,” says Sullivan. “It is clear at this point he needs to be removed from society so he cannot continue to put everyone at risk.” 

Kelowna-based personal injury lawyer Paul Hergott says impaired driving is selfish and awful conduct. 

"There needs to be consequences and corresponding enforcement sufficient to change that behaviour,” says Hergott. "Not jail, which is costly and useless.”

Allowing prohibited drivers to register their vehicles for insurance in B.C. is diverting attention from the real problem, he says. 

"Someone willing to break the law driving prohibited will drive unregistered,” he tells Glacier Media.

He would like to see effective steps taken to address the root of the problem, which he believes is alcohol use. 

While these cases are not common, Sullivan admits they present a significant problem that needs to be dealt with seriously.

"The focus needs to be on the protection of the public, which will include a combination of rehab, a significant prison sentence and possibly even a long-term supervision order given his history,” says Sullivan, adding that there must be insurance coverage so that if the driver is involved in a crash, the victims and survivors are covered.