by Sonia Aslam.
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Here’s a question for you: have you ever been given a ticket, for say, running a red light, speeding or distracted driving? Well, it turns out police can actually have your license suspended pretty quickly if they find you have a poor driving record. Whenever you get pulled over, the officer has the ability to check your background and if they find you have a few infractions, or if you’ve been issued a ticket for the same offence, they can suggest you be taken off the road. “We can see how frequently we’re writing them tickets and what their driving history is like. It is at the discretion of the officer to write a letter to the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles and request they review their driving record and suspend their license,” explains Vancouver Police Constable Brian Montague. He adds they do this all the time. “For example, if I pull you over for talking on your cellphone or texting on your cellphone and I notice you’ve been issued that same ticket three or four times in the last eight or nine months, I have the ability to write a very quick letter, fax that off to Victoria and within a day they will usually make a decision on whether or not to suspend someone’s license.” If it’s decided you should be temporarily banned, you’d be notified right away and asked to hand over your license. “I spoke to a traffic officer just the other day; he said he had stopped someone to issue them a ticket. They had numerous tickets for various offences over the last little while and he felt it was appropriate to write the superintendent, and the very next day he saw in the system that the driver had been suspended,” adds Montague. These laws are very similar to those used to take drunk drivers off the road. “Basically, it’s a way of altering bad driving behaviour. If someone clearly doesn’t get the message through ticketing that they need to change their driving behaviour, then maybe a suspension or prohibition is the next step that needs to be taken. And I think the average person maybe doesn’t realize that multiple tickets could result in a license suspension.” If you continue to drive with a suspended license and get busted it becomes a criminal offence. Even if it’s your first offence, you will be banned from getting behind the wheel for at least a year and you can face fines between $500 to $2,000. For a second offence, the fines are the same, but you could be sent to jail for anywhere from two weeks to one year. And your car will be impounded, even if it’s not your car, however, the actual owner will have to pay for the towing and storage costs. Impoundment periods
- one week for a first infraction
- 30 days for a second infraction
- 60 days for a third infraction
Distracted driving Meantime, the provincial government is still mulling over tougher penalties for distracted drivers. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton says it could become a reality in this province sometime “in a few months.” NEWS 1130 recently asked her whether she would consider punishments in the range Ontario has introduced and those include a $500 fine for first time offenders and a 30-day licence suspension for new drivers. “We are analyzing what other provinces are doing and we will be announcing, before too long, what our proposed approach in British Columbia is,” said Anton. The province began a public consultation process on this subject back in June.