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May 24, 2016

Stiffer Fines for Distracted Drivers in BC

Are you using your time behind the wheel to do more than just drive? Then distracted driver beware! You’re going to face stiffer penalties for doing so on roads and highways in British Columbia. The provincial government recently announced harsher penalties for distracted driving to curb a number of dangerous driving habits.

We love our technology and we’ve all become experts at multitasking but simply put, they are not appropriate when driving. The province wants to put an end to distracted driving so they’re putting the pedal to the metal on a new set of rules and fines.

Starting June 1, 2016, distracted drivers in BC will face a new reality and much higher fines and penalties for their lack of attentiveness:

  • Each offence will include the base fine of $368 (increased from $167) and penalty point premiums
  • First-time offenders will pay $543 which includes a $175 penalty point premium
  • A second offence within a 12 month period will cost $888 including $520 in penalty point premiums
  • Fines will escalate with additional offences

“Distracted driving, like drinking and driving, is entirely avoidable, yet too often has devastating consequences,” said Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. ICBC reports that distracted driving is the second leading cause of car crash fatalities in the province.

What causes drivers to be distracted? Far too often, it is cell phone use. Making a call, sending a text, taking a selfie, or checking in on social media – there’s no denying smart devices have changed our behaviors. But when done behind the wheel the consequences can be deadly.

The province has also elevated distracted driving into the “high-risk” driving offence category, putting it on par with excessive speeding or driving without due care and attention. When you consider that in 2014, distracted driving resulted in 66 deaths and 630 serious injuries on roads and highways in BC, it is indeed a matter of grave concern. So leave the phone alone. It could save a life.

For more information

    • BC ups the ante on distracted driving, BC Gov News
    • BC takes hard line with bigger fines for distracted driving, Vancouver Sun
    • BC Public Study Results on Distracted Driving, GovTogetherBC
    • Psychologist says harsher punishments probably won’t change behaviour, News 1130

Author - Tony Vecchio, QC

Anthony (Tony) Vecchio, QC, founded Slater Vecchio in January 1998. He has been counsel on some of the largest cases in British Columbia.