As governments look for ways to combat distracted driving, Manitoba recently decided to take a more strict approach to penalties for existing laws. Effective since Nov. 1, motorists caught using a handheld device while driving in the Canadian province will face stiffer penalties, including a license suspension for the first offense. Fines have more than tripled.
In an effort to decrease distracted driving, Manitoba’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation will hand down a three-day roadside license suspension for the first time a driver is caught using a handheld device. Second offenses within a 10-year period will be punishable by a seven-day suspension.
Drivers caught driving while distracted will have to hand over their license at roadside. Manitoba Public Insurance will collect a $50 license reinstatement fee on behalf of the provincial government. Officers charging a driver with careless driving will immediately notify MPI to review the driver’s record to determine if further penalties may be required.
“The growing threat of distracted driving has led our government to take important action,” said Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler in a statement. “Our government is taking serious measures because people are not putting their cellphones down and are engaging in other distracted behaviors while driving.”
Fines also went up significantly. Also in effect since Nov. 1, fines for using a handheld device while driving increased from $203 to $672. Counting as careless driving, demerits will increase from two points to five points for each offense.
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