Stiffer penalties enacted for distracted driving

Changes that come into force Nov. 1 will allow for stiffer fines and roadside licence suspensions for using a cellphone or other hand-operated electronic devices while driving.

There will be an increase in the fine for using a hand-operated electronic device while driving from $203 to $672 and an increase in demerits for careless driving to five points from two for each infraction.

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The amendments also mean drivers will be subject to a three-day licence suspension the first time they’re caught and a seven-day suspension for a subsequent occurrence within 10 years. 

Suspended drivers will have to immediately surrender their driver’s licence at roadside.  
The amendments will also require officers charging a driver with careless driving to immediately notify Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) to review the driver’s record in order to determine if further penalties may be required. 

As part of the changes, MPI will collect a $50 licence reinstatement fee on behalf of the government.

Thirty people lost their lives and 184 people were seriously hurt last year because someone chose not to put their cell phone down or engaged in other distracting behaviours while driving.

© Virden Empire-Advance