DAWSON CREEK – 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 can result in injury and can mean life-altering consequences,” Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier said. “Safety is a top priority for our government and through implementing these penalties, our goal is to eliminate distracted 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.