Starting Monday, Feb. 1, fully licensed drivers caught talking on a hand-held phone or electronic device will face a $167 fine, while those found texting or emailing, or programming their IPOD or GPS will also receive a ticiet that attracts three penalty points.

Police have been stopping drivers throughout January to give them warnings about talking on a cellphone, and people seem to be getting the message and changing their behaviour.

Changes to the Motor Vehicle Act that ban or restrict the use of many electronic devices by drivers came into effect Jan. 1, 2010. Since then, police in many communities have conducted targeted enforcement, issuing warning tickets to drivers seen violating the new rules. According to the Ministry of Solicitor General Website, in the span of one hour, police on Vancouver Island spotted 27 drivers on the Trans-Canada Highway talking on a hand-held phone, resulting in 13 warning tickets. Aparently one driver who was pulled over continued to talk on the phone as the police officer approached the vehicle.

Fully licensed drivers are restricted to using only hands-free cellphones and other electronic devices, and cannot text or email while driving. New drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program face a full ban on using cellphones and electronic devices, including hands-free units, and will receive both the fine and penalty points for any infraction.

Happy New Year!

On Jan. 1, 2010, police will begin enforcing changes to the Motor Vehicle Act that mean drivers can only use hands-free cellphones and devices that require just one touch to activate. Fines will begin on Feb. 1, 2010 when a driver talking on a hand-held phone or electronic device will face a fine of $167. Drivers caught texting or emailing will be subject to 3 penalty points in addition to the $167 fine.

To comply with the new law, fully licensed drivers can use hands-free technology that is activated by a single touch to a button, or when it is safe to do so, pull over to a legal parking place and stop their vehicle before they talk or email.

New drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP - Class 7 and 7L) are fully banned on all cellphone and electronic devices, including hands-free. A recent report entitled 'Teens and Distracted Driving' by Washington D.C.-based Pew Research found that of those teens 16 to 17 years of age who own a cellphone or text regularly, more than half have talked on a cellphone while driving, and one in three has texted while driving. GLP drivers face a $167 fine and 3 pentaly points.

For a detailed summary on what is permitted and what is prohibited under the legislation, provided by the office of the superintendent of motor vehicles click the link below:

Cell Phone Texting Driving Ban Summary PDF for Download

So, buy yourself a bluetooth headset. A top of the line Jawbone Prime Bluetooth Headset is about $130 at Costco, or about $37 less than your first fine. You can get a decent bluetooth starting at around $40 - $60. If you are in a collision and you are not using a headset, the Insurance Company will use this against you.

Don't forget as of January 1, 2010 no more handheld cell phone use is allowed while driving. No dialing, no texting. You cannot dial, type or talk on a handheld device while driving.

All drivers

The Proposed changes to the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act will prohibit:

-operating or holding hand-held cellphones or other electronic devices
-sending or reading emails and/or texting - BlackBerry, IPhone, PDA, cellphone
-operating or holding hand-held music or portable gaming devices
-manual programming or adjusting GPS systems, for both factory and aftermarket systems.

You can do all of the above while legally parked and not impeding trafficc

You will be able to use the following:

-Hands-free devices or phones that are built in or securely fixed to the vehicle, and used by pressing a single -button ' once only ' in order to activate a hands-free device for incoming or outgoing calls.
-Pre-programmed and voice-activated GPS devices.
-Two-way radios for industry (e.g., trucking, logging, oil and gas).
-911 calls to report an emergency.

Graduated licence program (new) drivers (GLP):

In addition to the above restrictions and permitted actions, new drivers will be prohibited from using hands-free devices (cellphones on speaker mode or bluetooth) while driving. 

Exemptions to the legislation include police, fire and ambulance personnel who may need to make calls in the performance of their duties.

Source: Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

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*I certify that I am not a lawyer, I am not an insurance adjuster, I do not work for ICBC or any other insurance company and I am not obtaining this information on behalf of ICBC or any other insurance company.