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Bigger fines for distracted drivers in B.C. start this week

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May 31, 2016 - 4:30 PM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Distracted drivers across B.C. will be getting heavier fines and receive more penalty points as of tomorrow.

Beginning June 1, the base fine will increase to $368 from $167 and drivers will be getting four penalty points instead of three with possible driving prohibitions for repeat offenders.

Penalty point premiums start at $175 for the first four penalty points and escalate to a minimum $520 for a second offence within the same 12-month period, the provincial government says in a release.

That means first time offenders will be getting a minimum $543 in financial penalties.

Anyone caught a second time within 12 months will have to pay the $368 fine plus $520 for a total of $888 in financial penalties. The amounts continue to escalate with each subsequent offence.

“Distracted driving is now considered a high-risk driving offence, which makes it equivalent to excessive speeding, driving without due care and attention, and driving without reasonable consideration,” the release says. “Repeat offenders will have their driving record subject to automatic review, which could result in a three- to 12-month driving prohibition.”

New drivers under the graduated licencing program face a possible six-month prohibition after a first distracted driving offence.

Earlier this month RCMP unveiled 'distracted driving scopes', equipment which fits on the end of cameras and can spot people texting in their vehicles from up to 1.2 kilometres away.

“In 2014, distracted driving and inattention was a contributing factor in killing 66 people and seriously injuring 630 more on B.C. roads,” the release says.

For more information visit the Ministry of Public Safety website.

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