“I feel the need—the need for speed,” declared Tom Cruise’s iconic character Maverick in Top Gun. Whether running late for an appointment or just in hurry to start the weekend—we’ve all felt that same need. While the impulse to speed may be universal, the truth is speeding is a major contributor to motor vehicle accidents in British Columbia.

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Prior to June 10, 2019 receiving a violation ticket in British Columbia would not affect your insurance rates.  Instead ICBC would collect revenue from certain offences and points by conducting a calculation under either the Driver Penalty Point Premium program or the Driver Risk Premium program.  Point premiums are assessed based on how many points are on a person’s driving record in a given year.  Driving risk premiums are assessed depending on whether the person has a high-risk driving offence (excessive speeding, use of electronic device, or driving without due care/consideration), motor vehicle criminal conviction or roadside suspension.

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When you are served with a violation ticket in BC, such as for speeding or using an electronic device while driving, you have 30 days from the date you are served the ticket to register a dispute either in person or by mail.  If you fail to do so, after 30 days you are deemed to have pleaded guilty to the offence. Likewise, if you fail to attend a scheduled hearing at traffic court, the Judicial Justice of the Peace can make a determination to treat your matter as “deemed not disputed” which results in it being treated as a finding of guilty. Sometimes people fail to do this and believe that they have no avenues with which to pursue a dispute of their matter

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A case was recently decided by the Supreme Court of British Columbia that will have a huge impact on how distracted driving laws are enforced and decided in provincial court.  The decision in the case is that “use” is a necessary element of the offence.  Most people have not read the Motor Vehicle Act or the Use of Electronic Devices while Driving Regulation so they are not familiar with what “use” actually means in this context.  Most people assume that they must be speaking on the phone, texting or holding the device.  This is not accurate.  The Regulations state that “use” includes: watching the screen of a device, holding the screen of a device, operating one of its functions and communicating orally via the device.

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Drivers are sometimes confused by what they are required to do by law as they approach an intersection and the traffic light turns from green to yellow. This situation is governed by the Motor Vehicle Act [RSBC 1996] Chapter 318. A lot of drivers assume that they can accelerate their vehicle to try to get through the intersection while their light remained yellow or had just turned red.

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Many people don’t realize the various roadside prohibitions, driving offences or measures the government, or more specifically the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (AKA RoadSafetyBC), can take to revoke a person’s driving privileges.  Given how important licenses are to person’s livelihood, we know how important it is to assist our clients get their driving prohibitions cancelled.

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There have been some major changes to impaired driving laws in the past year, on both Provincial and Federal Levels.

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