Distracted driving penalties in British Columbia are set to increase this year as the government announced the fine will jump by $201 on June 1st, 2016.
The current fines for disobeying the law are $167 and three demerit points, which is one of the lowest penalties in Canada. Effective June 1st, the fine will increase to a base fine of $368 for those caught using their mobile device while behind the wheel. The penalty also includes four demerit points.
However, the distracted driving fines are heavy for first-time offenders as those drivers face a minimum $543 in penalties. In addition, drivers charged with a second offence within 12 months will pay $888 in fines – the base fine of $368 plus $520.
Mike Morris, minister of public safety and solicitor general, stated, “Distracted driving, like drinking and driving, is entirely avoidable, yet too often has devastating consequences. Since 2010, when we introduced tough, immediate sanctions for drinking and driving, we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in alcohol-related traffic fatalities. By deploying tough new sanctions for distracted driving, we want to see our drivers, cyclists and pedestrians get home to their families safely as we take another step towards reaching our goal of having the safest roads in North America by 2020.”
Distracted driving includes the use of hand-held devices such as smartphones, tablets, iPods, GPS and MP3 players, cellphone, laptops, and DVD players.
The province also states that repeat distracted driving offenders will have their driving record automatically reviewed, which might see them prohibited to drive for three-to-12 months. Finally, those within the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) are caught using their mobile will “face intervention after a first distracted driving offence and a possible prohibition of up to six months.”
A recent survey by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) recently revealed distracted driving is responsible for approximately 28 percent of car crash fatalities in the province.