Public Safety Minister Mike Morris uses a driving simulator to show the effect of texting and driving.

Distracted driving ticket will soon cost $543 and up

Cost for first texting and driving offence $543, up to $888 for a second within one year and licence may be suspended

A first offence for checking your phone while driving will cost B.C. drivers $543 when new penalties take effect June 1.

The fine for distracted driving goes up from $167 to $368, and drivers will also be assessed four penalty points, triggering another $175 charge. The combination results in a total penalty of $888 for a second offence within a year of the first.

Public Safety Minister Mike Morris said the new fines put B.C. near the top of distracted driving fines for Canadian provinces, and two tickets in a year will also trigger an automatic review by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles that could result in licence suspension.

Public consultation over the past year has found support for a tougher approach.

“A lot of the input that we had indicated even higher penalties than that,” Morris said.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said the public awareness campaigns have not convinced enough people of the dangers of trying to use mobile phones or other devices without hands-free services.

“Imagine trying to drive the length of a football field while you’re blindfolded,” Stone said.

Central Saanich Police Chief Les Sylven, president of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, reminded drivers that being at a stop light or stuck in a traffic jam does not mean the distracted driving penalties don’t apply.

NDP public safety critic Mike Farnworth said the government didn’t need to take a year to increase one of the lowest distracted driving penalty systems in the country, and giving the superintendent discretion over multiple repeat offenders doesn’t send a clear enough message.

“Frankly, I think that if you get more than three in the course of the year, there should be no ‘may’ about it, you will lose your licence,” Farnworth said.

Just Posted

Tofino Jazz Festival returns this weekend

“The Festival’s main mission is to provide an opportunity to build community through music.”

Tofino Hatchery wraps up successful season

“If you give those things half a chance, they will go to the ‘nth degree’ to get up those rivers.”

Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News earns four national awards

The Westerly was announced as the recipient of four Canadian Community Newspaper Awards last week.

Culture provides authentic means to education for Ahousaht and Klemtu students

Tying lessons into a real-world scenario creates a more significant and community-based classroom

Tofino police believe alcohol was a factor in Thursday night car crash

The crash knocked out power to the community from 6:44-10:01 p.m

VIDEO: Sexting teens at risk of depression and substance abuse, Canadian study says

Use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana were also found to be associated with sexting

VIDEO: Toronto Raptors announcer credited with calming crowds after shooting

Matt Devlin, the Raptors’ play-by-play announcer since 2008, was praised for preventing panic from spreading

Mini-horse visits residents at Lower Mainland care home

Gunner turned a visit with grandpa into a major event for everyone at the residence

Women sue former Vancouver cop over alleged sexual abuse during pimp case

Two women claim James Fisher caused psychological trauma during the Reza Moazami investigation

First ever Indigenous person to join the RCMP to be honoured in B.C.

Hawk Kelly said becoming a Mountie was his dream job as a kid

Deadline for cabinet to decide future of Trans Mountain expansion is today

International Trade Minister Jim Carr described the decision as ‘very significant’

Mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of B.C. inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused B.C. cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Most Read