It is a question that is baffling police and the public around the Lower Mainland – what will it take for a woman with 14 distracted driving citations to have her licence revoked?
Earlier this month, the woman in her 40s, who police say is an “experienced driver,” was publicly exposed by Richmond RCMP on their Twitter account. Last Wednesday, the Vancouver Police (VPD) tweeted they have requested that the driver in question have her licence suspended after receiving her 14th ticket.
However, Sam McLeod, B.C.’s Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, said they have not received a request from Vancouver Police for the woman to have her licence suspended. But Sgt. Randy Fincham with the VPD told Global News they faxed the request to the department on March 7. McLeod said department staff are checking with the VPD this morning about this woman’s record.
The woman almost collided with a Richmond RCMP officer on March 3 and was issued her 14th ticket by the VPD on March 7.
McLeod said he could not talk about specific cases, but did say they have received requests in the past for people with distracted driving convictions to have their licence pulled.
“There’s various sanctions there or remedial sanctions that we can pose under the Motor Vehicle Act,” said McLeod. “They go all the way from warning letters to probation to prohibition.”
A distracted driving ticket now costs $167 and puts three demerit points on the person’s licence. Prior to Oct. 20, 2014, drivers were fined for distracted driving, but they were not issued any demerit points.
McLeod said for someone to have their licence taken away for distracted driving, the department must receive a police report and then they will act on that “immediately.”
“We will review the driver’s record, the driver’s file, the circumstances of the police report and then make an immediate decision on what remedial action we’ll take,” he said.
“I think the issue that we need to understand is that prior to October, 2014, distracted driving offence for using a cell phone, had no penalty points associated to it.”
Fincham said once a person gets 12 points, it will trigger a review by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles. The woman has now reached 12 points on her licence.
McLeod said drivers come to their attention through an accumulation of penalty points. “In this particular case, this individual wouldn’t have come to our attention,” he said. “Then, in October 2014, we added the three demerit points, or penalty points, for using a cell phone for experienced drivers. So for the last 18 months, we will now start getting those people brought to our attention sooner.”
Changes to the distracted driving laws are expected to be announced in early May. About 50,000 distracted driving tickets are issued annually in B.C.