The cost of a distracted driving ticket may be too much for many

With penalties for distracted driving rising in B.C., drivers may want to consider fighting their tickets.

Earlier in 2016 the British Columbia government significantly increased the cost of distracted driving in the province. According to Global News, the financial penalty on just a third distracted driving citation now exceeds $1,200. Additionally, the province has made it much easier for drivers to have their licences reviewed and suspended due to repeat distracted driving citations. While many people may think of a traffic offence as little more than an irritating inconvenience, these new penalties show that such citations could be unaffordable for many.

Increased distracted driving fines

The fine for distracted driving rose from $167 to $368 beginning June 1, 2016. However, as CBC News points out, that fine is only a portion of the true financial cost of receiving a distracted driving citation. Drivers will also receive four penalty points for each distracted driving offence. For a first offence, penalty point premiums will cost $175. Combined with the $368 fine, the total financial penalty for a first offence is now $543. While the distracted driving fine of $368 stays the same for each repeat offence, the cost from penalty points will continue to rise. For a second offence, for example, the total financial cost is now $888, for a fifth offence $4,128, and for a tenth offence the combined financial penalty is a staggering $14,888.

As if the financial penalty alone were not punishment enough, it has also become much easier for drivers to lose their licences due to distracted driving. Repeat offenders will face an automatic licence review after each repeat offence, while those on a graduate licence will face an automatic review after just their first offence. A licence review could lead to a licence suspension of three months to a full year.

Too high a burden?

While it is certainly true that distracted driving is a serious public safety topic that needs to be addressed, the new penalties for distracted driving may seem a bit too severe to many people. Paying thousands of dollars worth of penalties for just a few traffic offences may seem excessive to many and it is likely to be too much of a financial burden to some. Furthermore, many people rely on their vehicles to get to and from work, school, and other important places. Without a licence, many people could find it much harder to maintain their jobs or their family's quality of life.

Fighting a traffic offence

Far too many people assume that fighting a traffic offence is a waste of time and money. However, as the above article shows, the cost of being convicted for even a single traffic offence could be considerable and repeat offences could lead to financial penalties that many families simply cannot afford. A criminal defence lawyer can help those who are facing steep traffic citations, including for distracted driving. While a traffic offence may not seem like a big deal, the cost of not fighting one could end up being more than one can afford.