June 4, 2015 3:49 pm
Updated: June 4, 2015 7:59 pm

Manitoba drivers face 5 demerits for talking, texting behind the wheel

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WINNIPEG – Manitoba drivers who can’t resist texting or talking on the phone while on the road will soon be risking 5 demerit points from the current 2 starting July 1st, the province announced Thursday.

“This is the highest level of demerit points in Canada for the use of a handheld device,” said Manitoba Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh.

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The increase means drivers with a good record would pay up to $542 dollars to renew their license for the five years it would take to return to their clean record. Drivers with poor records would slide so far down the Driver Safety Rating scale they could pay as much as $3200 in additional costs, officials said. The money would go into MPI’s accident funds.

“This area is so seriously in need of a longer term view when it comes to impaired and distracted driving,” said Mackintosh.

The fine for distracted driving remains $200.

READ MORE: Manitoba police crack down on distracted drivers

The new legislation is also aimed at those who drink before getting behind the wheel. The roadside license suspension that can be imposed on drivers with a low blood alcohol level will increase to 3 days from the current 24 hours.

If there is a child in the vehicle, the suspension increases to seven days.

“This is the first time in Canada there will be an enhanced suspension if there is a child in the vehicle,” said Mackintosh.

Those rules only apply when a driver’s blood alcohol level is between .05% and .08%. After that, it’s an impaired driving charge under the Criminal Code.

All convicted impaired drivers will also be required to participate in Manitoba’s Interlock Program which is a behavioural program that encourages safe driving habits.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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