British Columbia hikes fines, adds points

British Columbia has more than doubled the fines for distracted drivers, following up on public demands for tougher punishments.

flag of british columbiaThe new penalties, which go into effect June 1, will tag first offenders with a base fine of $368. With insurance premium hikes tied to four newly added penalty points, the offense will cost violators $543. (The current fine is $167 with no points.)

The total for second offenses within the same year comes to $888, with an automatic license review from motor vehicle officials that could result in probation. Penalty points continue to increase with serial offenses. A third offense costs $1,600, for example.

Graduated Licensing Program drivers face intervention after a first distracted driving offense.

With these moves, distracted driving is elevated to a “high-risk” driving offense.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said of British Columbia’s increased penalties: “Some people are still not getting the message. Today’s announcement of significantly higher fines … sends the message loud and clear.”

Public Safety Minister Mike Morris called distracted driving a practice that is “entirely avoidable, yet too often has devastating consequences.” The government calls it “a leading factor” in highway fatalities.

British Columbia’s government had sought out public input on the province’s new distracted driving penalties. Officials said at the May 9 unveiling of the new punishments that 90 percent of the public wanted to see an increase in the province’s penalties, currently among the lowest in Canada.

More than 42,000 tickets were handed out to distracted drivers between 2010 and 2014, officials said.

> Read more about British Columbia distracted driving laws.

Comments

  1. Al Cinamon says:

    The message is very loud and clear: we can’t stop people from using the phone, so let’s make some money from it. If the purpose is to stop drives from driving distracted, why not confiscate their phone and suspend their license? Simple, that might prevent distracted driving, but it wouldn’t bring any money into the treasury.

    Our laws are riddled with hypocrisy and I mean to expose it. I am in the midst of writing a book that will expose our phony traffic laws and many of our dangerous driving habits. I expect it to be published in the fall.

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