Beginning Feb.1, Nova Scotians who use a hand-held device while driving will face increased fines and receive demerit points on their licence.
“We take road safety seriously and distracted driving has become a very big issue in our province – as serious as impaired driving,” said Geoff MacLellan, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. “The bigger fines and addition of demerit points are an added incentive to put away your hand-held device while behind the wheel. We hope greater consequences will help influence driver behaviour.”
The new rules mean each time someone is convicted of using a hand-held electronic device while driving, they will receive four demerit points on their licence. There are exemptions for using a cellphone to report an emergency.
New drivers still in the graduated driver’s licensing program have fewer allowable points to lose, which means they could lose their licence more quickly if convicted. For people still in the learner phase it would take just one instance of getting caught using a hand-held device while driving to lose their licence.
Fully licensed drivers lose their licence for six months once they reach ten points.
“Texting and driving is a lethal combination, however this message is still not resonating with some drivers,” said Insp. Bernadine Chapman, officer in charge of RCMP traffic services and member of the provincial Road Safety Advisory Committee. “As police, we see the devastating consequences of distracted driving and welcome anything that might deter someone from texting while behind the wheel. So please put your phones away when driving. It’s just not worth it.”
Fine amounts will increase as follows:
— 1st offence, fines increase from $176.45 to $233.95
— 2nd offence, fines increase from $233.95 to $348.95
— 3rd offence, fines increase from $348.95 to $578.95
The increased fines and new demerit points mean Nova Scotia will have some of the strongest penalties in the country for using hand-held devices while driving.