The base fine in British Columbia for distracted driving, including using electronic devices or eating while driving is $368. Online rumours since April 1 suggested that the fine would become $1,000 in May. (Lakes District News file photo)

The base fine in British Columbia for distracted driving, including using electronic devices or eating while driving is $368. Online rumours since April 1 suggested that the fine would become $1,000 in May. (Lakes District News file photo)

$1,000 fine for eating and driving just hype

Recent online rumours saying that in May Canadians could be fined $1,000 for eating while driving have been greatly exaggerated.

The Canada Eh? website posted a story on April 1 saying, “Though each province has its own specific laws regarding distracted driving, the RCMP notes that in most provinces, fines of over $1000 and up to 4 demerit points with license suspension are possible.”

READ MORE: Canadians Can Be Fined $1000 For Eating While Driving Starting Next Month

The post is great clickbait but it doesn’t quite line up with the facts.

Several days later a posting on the Snopes portal clarified that distracted drivers could be fined $1,000 in Ontario, but not in other provinces.

Asked about the facts of eating while driving in British Columbia, Ian Indridson, spokesman for the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, told Black Press that the laws on distracted driving have been in place for nine years.

“Since 2010, B.C. has had distracted driving legislation governing the use of electronic devices while driving. The base fine for a first offence is now $368, with escalating penalties for repeat offences.

The fine is in accordance with the Motor Vehicle Act section 144(1)(a).

“Police can ticket drivers for an array of other behaviours that constitute driver inattention, including eating while driving, at their discretion.”

Changes to the law which came into effect in March 2018 impose on distracted drivers with several distracted driving offences stiffer consequences on top of their regular insurance premiums. And it’s in those changes where the facts sound a bit like the Canada Eh? rumour.

“A driver with two distracted driving tickets in a three-year period could pay as much as $2,000 – $740 more than under the previous penalty structure,” Indridson said.


Blair McBride
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