February 2017 – STEP Distracted DrivingThe penalty for distracted driving in Alberta is a $287 fine and three (3) demerit points. This legislation restricts drivers from:
- using hand held cell phones texting or emailing
- using electronic devices like laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays and programming portable audio player (MP3 players)
- entering information on GPS units
- reading printed materials in the vehicle
- writing, printing or sketching
- and personal grooming
The legislation also applies to vehicles stopped at traffic lights.The only time a driver can use their cell phone while driving is to call in an emergency situation to a 911 Communications Centre. A driver can pull over to the side of the road to use their phone providing they are stopped and legally parked. If a driver is not in a legal parking spot (ie. being stopped on the shoulder of the Trans-Canada Highway) a ticket can still be issued.
The most frequently asked question regarding this law is whether pets are specifically addressed by the law. Here's the answer! In situations where the driver becomes too involved with their pet, police could reasonably argue that the distraction is comparable to the specifically banned activities of reading, writing and grooming and lay a charge.
Also, existing legislation - Traffic Safety Act 115(2)(i) - allows police to charge a driver who permits anything, including a pet, to occupy the front seat of the vehicle such that it interferes with the driver's access to the vehicle controls and the safe operation of the vehicle. Further, Traffic Safety Act 115(2)(j) - allows police to charge a driver who permits anything, including a pet, to cause any obstruction to the driver's clear vision in any direction. We encourage the continued use of these existing provisions.
For more information, contact:
Sgt. Clarke White
Medicine Hat Police Service
Education and Enforcement Program - Smoke Free Vehicles for Minors
Section 3 bylaw states: No person shall Smoke in a Vehicle while another person who is a Minor is present in the Vehicle, regardless of whether or not a window, sunroof, car top, door or other feature of the Vehicle is open, or whether the Vehicle is moving or stationary.
Minor is defined in the bylaw as any person under the age of 16 years of age. The specified penalty for the first offence under the bylaw is $100. A complete copy of the bylaw can be viewed here:To report bylaw violations please call or complaints line at 403-529-8481. If you have questions related to this or any other bylaw enforcement issue please call our information line at 403-529-8400.
Supervisor of Municipal Bylaw Enforcement
Medicine Hat Police Service