Distracted driving and impaired driving: know the consequences

Have you ever driven impaired? Have you ever been distracted while driving? If so, have you ever stopped to think about the consequences of your actions?

Distracted driving and impaired driving are huge problems that exist on our roads:

  • Approximately 68 people die every year in crashes involving alcohol impaired driving;
  • Approximately 20 people die every year in crashes involving drug impaired driving; and
  • Approximately 77 people die every year in crashes involving distracted driving (about 1 out of 4 fatalities on the road).

Impaired driving refers to driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, with a blood-alcohol concentration or drug concentration in your system above a certain limit. However, even if your concentration level is below the legal limit, you can still be charged if there is sufficient evidence of impairment.

Distracted driving refers to the use of electronic devices while driving. This includes holding the device in a position in which it may be used, operating one or more of the device’s functions, communicating orally by means of the device with another person or another device, and watching the screen of the device. However, the use of electronic devices is permitted in a few circumstances, such as while operating a motor vehicle that is safely parked off the roadway or lawfully parked on the roadway and is not impeding traffic, to call or send a message to a police force, fire department or ambulance service about an emergency, and when it is used in a hands free manner in accordance with the regulations.

In order to keep impaired drivers and distracted drivers off the road, the police force has initiated the Counterattack Campaign and the Distracted Drivers Campaign.

As a part of the Counterattack Campaign, roadblocks are put into place (they can be anywhere) to take impaired drivers off the road. The Vancouver Police managed to take 360 impaired drivers off the roads during this summer. From the 360 impaired drivers, 116 were issued roadside suspensions and 244 were issued immediate roadside prohibitions. This means that these individuals were prohibited from driving anywhere between 24 hours to 90 days, depending on their specific infraction and history of infractions.

Along the same lines, the Distracted Drivers Campaign is an initiative put into place to catch distracted drivers when they least expect it. Police officers are everywhere looking for anyone who uses an electronic device while driving. This includes using your phone while stopped at a red light or slowed in traffic. The penalty for receiving a distracted driving ticket is a $368 fine plus 4 points on your record. The more infractions you have, the more your insurance premium increases.

As a team of lawyers handing ICBC claims and representing people involved in motor vehicle accidents, we here at Simpson, Thomas & Associates think it is important to spread awareness of how the decisions you make behind the wheel can impact you and others on the road.

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