PRINCE GEORGE – Effective June 1, distracted drivers will face higher fines, more penalty points, and earlier interventions for repeat offenders, including driving prohibitions.

The initiatives are part of the B.C. government’s plan to eliminate distracted driving, a leading factor in deaths on B.C. roads. They reflect feedback from the B.C. government’s public consultation, during which 90 per cent of respondents indicated they support stronger penalties.

Effective June 1, distracted drivers are subject to the following:

  • Each offence will include a base fine of $368 – up from $167 – and will add four penalty points to a person’s driving record.
  • First time offenders will face a minimum $543 in financial penalties.
  • Repeat offenders, upon a second offence within 12 months will pay the $368 fine plus $520 for a total of $888 in financial penalties, which escalate further for any additional offence
  • Repeat offenders will also have their driving record subject to automatic review which could result in a three-to-12 month driving prohibition.

The new financial penalties are calculated using the base fine of $368 combined with escalating ICBC Driver Penalty Point premiums which start at $175 for the first offence and climb for any additional offence within a 12-month period.

“Distracted driving is avoidable. Inattentive driving can result in injury and can mean life-altering consequences,” said Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General and Prince George-Mackenzie MLA. “We’re implementing these penalties because we want to eliminate distracted driving. If you’re operating a vehicle, drop your devices and drive.”

“Distracted driving was responsible for the death of 66 people and hundreds of injuries last year. And the saddest part about this tragic story is that the deaths and injuries were preventable,” said Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond. “The changes to penalties will send the strong message that all of us need to drive responsibly and remind us that we need to give our full attention to driving.”

Distracted driving is being elevated to a high-risk driving offence, making it equivalent to excessive speeding and driving without due care and attention. Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) drivers face intervention after a first distracted-driving offence and a possible prohibition of up to six months and longer prohibitions for repeat offences. The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles also has discretion to prohibit drivers based on referrals from ICBC or police.

An ongoing education and awareness campaign and partnerships, including those with law enforcement and ICBC will also help encourage drivers to change the way they think about distracted driving.

In 2014, distracted and inattentive driving killed 66 people and seriously injured 630 more on B.C. roads.

Learn More:

RoadSafetyBC Distracted Driving:

http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/driving-and-cycling/road-safety-rules-and-consequences

ICBC tips for safe cellphone use:

http://www.icbc.com/road-safety/crashes-happen/Distracted-driving/Pages/Default.aspx