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Crime

Licence suspensions coming for drivers caught using cell phones

WATCH: The Conservative government officially introduced a bill Monday that calls for a three-day licence suspension for first time offenders caught using their phones while driving. Global's Amber McGuckin reports.

The Manitoba government has introduced legislation that will see harsher penalties for distracted drivers.

The Conservative government officially introduced a bill Monday that calls for a three-day licence suspension for first time offenders caught using their phones while driving and a seven-day suspension the second time.

Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler said there will be a grace period.

“You will get a temporary license to get your vehicle home and then your three day suspension will kick in,” he said.

READ MORE: Roadside suspensions on the way for Manitobans caught texting and driving

Len Eastoe fights tickets through his business the Traffic Ticket Experts. He said the changes are unfair.

“The immediate suspension means you’re putting a penalty in place before a person’s even been found guilty. You’ve suspended them for three days, it’s done,” he said.

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“You take away our system because the system is you get to go before court and the evidence has to come out in front of an adjudicator. Here we make the police officer the witness, the judge, the jury and decides the penalty.”

READ MORE: Winnipeg police frustrated texting and driving still continues on the roads

Last year there were 6,165 people charged with distracted driving, for using their cell phones or other hand-operated electronic devices.

Crashes caused by distracted drivers have been on the rise in the province. Data from Manitoba Public Insurance shows that between 2011 and 2016 the number of crashes rose from 2,415 to 11,086.

READ MORE: Winnipeg family of man killed in texting-and-driving crash demands change

Right now distracted drivers are also slapped with five demerits and a $204 ticket. That fine is also under review.

The province isn’t just targeting cell phone users, it also plans to make careless driving a serious driving offence, which could lead to a license suspension and two demerit points.

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