Distractions While Driving - Cell Phones and Other Devices

Effective June 1, 2016, the fine for a distracted driving violation ticket has more than doubled, from $167 to $368.  The number of associated penalty points applied to a driver’s record has also increase from 3 to 4 points.  On a first infraction, this will also result in a driver paying a further $175 ICBC Driver Penalty Point premium, for a total of $543 for a first infraction. For a second infraction within a one-year period, not only does the driver have to pay another $368, but the ICBC Driver Penalty Point premium will increase to $520.  Additional infractions will result in a further escalation of ICBC Driver Penalty Point premiums.

Distracted driving infractions have also been added to the list of high risk driving infractions that trigger early intervention and driving prohibitions through the Driver Improvement Program (DIP). Experienced drivers who incur two or more infractions within 12 months will be considered high risk and their driving records will be reviewed by DIP, potentially resulting in a 3-12 month prohibition.  Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) drivers who incur one distracted driving infraction will also be considered high-risk, and will be reviewed by DIP, potentially receiving a 1-6 month prohibition.  GLP drivers may be subject to longer prohibitions for subsequent infractions.


Activities that impact a driver’s ability to focus on the road come in a wide range of forms, from visual distractions inside and outside the vehicle, to cognitive distractions when using electronic devices. In fact, research indicates that drivers fail to process approximately 50 per cent of the visual information in their driving environment when they are using electronic communication devices.

While texting on a communications device is often recognized as the riskiest behaviour, distractions such as seeking for preferred music or attending to personal grooming can significantly divert a driver’s attention. Research has also concluded that telephone conversations are much more distracting than in-vehicle conversations – perhaps because passengers can observe the road, provide warning, adjust conversation tone according to traffic conditions, and the like – while telephone conversations contain fewer pauses and demand greater cognitive resources.

Research evidence has shown that approximately one-quarter of crashes can be attributed to driver distraction: attention being diverted from driving tasks. This can result in significant costs to society, such as: tragic loss of life, serious injuries, health expenses, property damage and insurance rates.

Rules and Penalties

The Motor Vehicle Act, Part 3.1 — Use of Electronic Devices While Driving specifically addresses the use of electronic devices while driving. A driver found of using a hand-held electronic device while driving may receive a $368 traffic violation ticket that also carries 4 penalty points. Offences and infractions that include penalty points can lead to a driving prohibition.

Stricter limitations are imposed on drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) as risks are demonstrated to be higher among new and young drivers due to a combination of inexperience, a tendency toward greater risk-taking, and significantly higher than average use of electronic devices – all combined, makes this group of drivers particularly vulnerable.

For these drivers (GLP: 'L's and 'N's) violation tickets can be issued for any electronic distraction, including hands-free devices and always comes with 4 penalty points. As well, the driving record of any GLP driver with 3 points or more will automatically undergo a review by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles – see the Driver Improvement Program page on this site. If the Superintendent issues a driving prohibition to a driver in the Novice stage, the 24-month Novice driving period starts over when the prohibition ends and the novice driver gets re-licensed.