Thousands caught under new driving laws 

New laws targeting impaired drivers and speeders have resulted in thousands of sanctions across the province since they came into effect Sept. 20, according to a release by the Ministry of Public Safety.

From Sept. 20 to Oct. 10, police and RCMP issued 1,400 penalties for impaired driving and 435 penalties for excessive speeding.

Since February, when a ban on using cell phones and other hand-held devices came into effect, almost 20,000 tickets have been issued to drivers for using the devices.

"While these tallies are alarming, I commend law enforcement officers for their efforts," said Solicitor General Michael de Jong. "The desired goal is to negate the need to issue these penalties as our aim is to change dangerous and preventable driving behaviour, but that depends on British Columbians making small personal choices that could mean the difference between life and death or serious injury."

The excessive speeding penalties kick in when drivers are 40 km/h over the posted speed limit, resulting in an automatic seven-day impoundment of their vehicles.

The impaired driving penalties kick in at 0.05 per cent blood alcohol content (BAC) with higher fines, three-day driving prohibitions for a first offence, possible vehicle impoundments and fees to reinstate a licence. At 0.08 per cent and over, the previous threshold for impaired driving, drivers are given an automatic 90-day suspension, a fine, a 30-day impoundment of their vehicle and they are required to take a safe driving course and install a breathalyzer/interlock device on their vehicles.

According to the province, some 1,239 vehicles have been impounded for impaired offences, and 435 for excessive speeding.

The latest statistics were released last week at an event in Richmond to draw attention to an ICBC campaign to curb fast driving in winter conditions. ICBC also provided $450,000 to assist communities in providing winter and holiday Counterattack campaigns from the end of October through January.

Cell phone offences

• A total of 19,460 in a six-month period. February was the lowest month with officers still giving warnings, and just 2,479 tickets were issued across B.C. The highest months were May with 3,472 and July with 3,450.

Impaired Driving

• The highest number of Immediate Roadside Prohibitions for impaired driving was reported in the Lower Mainland with 262 from Sept. 20 to Oct. 10. The southern region, which includes Whistler, had 253 IRPs.



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