VANCOUVER — A driver in Vancouver needed just eight minutes to rack up more than $700 in fines and eight demerit points, all because of a reluctance to put down the phone.
Vancouver Police posted a photo of the two tickets on social media, showing that within a space of barely six blocks along one of the city's most congested streets, the driver of the rented Hyundai Accent was stopped twice for using an electronic device.
Each infraction carries a fine of $368 and four driver demerit points, meaning the total bill facing the driver is $736, plus an additional $520 for the eight demerit points.
A later Twitter comment from police confirmed the driver was from outside the province, although the department declined to release their hometown.
Drivers of rental cars are usually responsible for paying any tickets, but the demerit points are applied annually and collected by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia when a vehicle's insurance is renewed.
That prompted a volley of comments on social media concerned that the chatty tourist might evade the fine and point penalty, but police say the Insurance Corporation invoices out of province drivers and unpaid bills can be sent to a collection agency.
If people are that stupid then they deserve the financial penalty they get.Mike Farnworth, public safety minister
In it's tweet, Vancouver Police called the repeat distracted driving offences expensive and dangerous, while British Columbia Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth was even more blunt.
"If people are that stupid then they deserve the financial penalty they get and this is a classic example of someone having more money than brains, and they have been hit in the pocketbook," he said.
British Columbia has had a law since 2010 against using cellphones and other devices behind the wheel, while fines and penalty points were increased last year to underscore the dangers of distracted driving.
Farnworth said he's considering even stiffer legislation and is extremely interested to learn the outcome of Ontario's proposal to raise fines against some distracted driving offences to as much as $50,000.
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