RICHMOND – 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.

“The traffic in Richmond has become busier in recent years. It is vital to send a clear and loud message that we will not tolerant distracted driving,” says John Yap, MLA for Richmond Steveston. “We will continue to educate the public the importance of road safety.”

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 the Insurance Company of British Columbia (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. All of these tragedies were 100 per cent preventable.

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