British Columbia

B.C. more than doubles penalty for distracted driving

Starting June 1, the B.C. government is raising the fine for distracted driving to $368, up from $167, and with penalty points the total fine is $543.

Starting June 1, distracted driving tickets will cost first-time offenders $368, up from $167

A person is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash, or near-crash event, if they text while driving, compared with non-distracted drivers according to the Canadian Automobile Association. (Getty Images)

The B.C. government is raising penalties for distracted driving next month, with the fine for a ticket more than doubling to $368. More penalty points will also be added, and there will be tougher penalties for repeat offenders.

"Some people are still not getting the message," Transportation Minister Todd Stone said in a statement. "Today's announcement ... sends the message loud and clear. We will not tolerate distracted driving on our roads."

The current fine in this province for distracted driving is $167, one of the lowest in the country according to the Canadian Automobile Association.

Starting June 1, first-time offenders will receive the $368 ticket and $175 for four penalty points on their driving records, for a total of $543.

Repeat offenders will pay the same $368, but will receive escalating penalty points for each offence within 12 months:

  • 2nd offence: $368 + $520 in penalty points = $888
  • 5th offence: $368 + $3760 in penalty points = $4,128
  • 10th offence: $368 + $14,520 in penalty points = $14,888

Repeat offenders will also face an automatic licence review, which could result in a driving prohibition of three to 12 months.

Drivers in the graduated licencing program will have their licences reviewed after a first offence.

'It's got to stop'

"People really need to get the message that texting while driving, it kills people. It's now almost killing as many people as drinking and driving and it's got to stop."

Last month, a Richmond woman finally lost her license on her 14th distracted driving charge.

According to one expert, distracted driving, especially texting while driving, will become the biggest cause of youth driver deaths in Canada in the not too distant future, overtaking impaired driving and speeding.

All numbers based on police data, from 2010 to 2014. (CBC)

​With files from Deborah Goble and Richard Zussman


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