Distracted drivers could get another option
Safety: RCMP program gives officers discretion to offer course over a fine
Wednesday, Jan 24, 2018 06:00 am
Distracted drivers caught by police in Okotoks will receive another option over a potential fine and demerits this winter.
Okotoks RCMP Sgt. Darren Turnbull, Okotoks detachment acting commander, is bringing Option Four to Okotoks. The program will give RCMP and Okotoks Municipal Enforcement officers the discretion to allow people caught distracted driving a chance to take a course to avoid a fine.
Turnbull said the program has been held in other detachments to educate drivers about the consequences of distracted driving, something that goes beyond a $287 fine and three demerit points.
“You could seriously injure yourself or someone else, or kill them in a car crash,” he said.
Turnbull said the program could give drivers an option beyond the three legal choices people have when they get a ticket.
“In every ticket you have three options – pay, dispute, or go to court and talk to the prosecutor,” he said. “With this we’ve offered up option four, a fourth option for distracted driving. Right at the outset the officer will say, ‘normally you have three options, but I’m going to give you the fourth option.’”
Officers who pull people over for distracted driving will have the discretion to give drivers the opportunity to take part in the program instead of receiving a ticket if they feel they will benefit from it.
Once someone completes the course, the RCMP will recommend the Crown prosecutor withdraw the distracted driving charges.
Anyone who attends the course and gets pulled over again for distracted driving will not have the option to take the course a second time, said Turnbull.
“Then they’re going to have to deal with the consequences of their decision,” he said.
He said the program is geared towards youth because they are more receptive to the course and using it to change their behaviour while driving, but adults could also get the option.
The first session is Feb. 24 at Speeders Indoor ProKarts in Calgary.