WATCH: If you text and drive, take note. The steepest sentence yet for a driver convicted of texting and driving has Island RCMP here hopeful that those $368 tickets could be just the beginning of the deterrent.
On Thursday, Nanaimo RCMP returned to the same area where a 17-year-old was hit and critically injured in a marked crosswalk a week earlier.
They were patrolling for distracted drivers, texting and speeding as the teen remains on life support in hospital.
Nanaimo RCMP’s distracted driving blitz comes at the same time word spreads of a precedent-setting sentence for texting and driving.
“I’m very amazed,” said Const. Martin Kortez of Nanaimo RCMP.
“It’s a stunning victory, I guess, of sorts for people across the country.”
In January, a Quebec judge handed down the harshest sentence yet for texting and driving, four years in prison, for causing a deadly crash in 2012.
“It is certainly going to have a persuasive value when sentencing in the future,” said Vancouver-based criminal defence lawyer Sarah Leamon.
The Quebec case involved a 39-year-old driver named Martin Carriere who was on his way to see a girlfriend when his wife found out about the affair. He exchanged 34 texts with his spouse over hi40-minute drive.
The texts only ended when he veered into an oncoming lane and crashed head0on into a hockey dad driving his teenage son and his young friend home from practice. The dad was killed and the two boys were badly injured.
“These text messages were lengthy and heated,” said Leamon.
“He was basically having an argument with his spouse.”
“And now with the advancements in the forensic analysis, we can actually take a person’s mobile device and go into the history. Even if the person has deleted a text message conversation. It is still possible to recover and preserve that evidence.”
Drivers now caught texting in B.C. are handed $386 fines that come with penalty points when they go to insure their vehicles, but experts expect the Quebec sentence to impact BC court decisions in the future.
RCMP are still investigating the crash on Hammond Bay Road and haven’t determined if distracted driving played a role. So far, no charges have been laid.