B.C. brings in higher fines and penalties for drivers caught texting, emailing

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VICTORIA - British Columbia has introduced tougher distracted driving penalties, costing law breakers $543 for a first offence.

Public Safety Minister Mike Morris says that as of June 1, people who drive while distracted will face a minimum fine of $368 and pay another $175 for four penalty points they'll receive with the ticket.

Morris says the fine will leap to $888 for someone who is caught a second time within 12 months and escalate further if a driver is stopped again, with penalty points stacking up.

As of June 1, people who email or text while driving will have committed a high-risk offence, with second-time offenders facing an automatic review and the possibility of losing their licence for three to 12 months.

Morris says the tough new sanctions will target irresponsible drivers where it hurts — their wallets and a loss of privileges.

He says distracted driving or driver inattention claimed 66 lives in B.C. in 2014, when more than 600 people were seriously hurt.

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