The bill to amend the Highway Safety Code and the Regulation respecting demerit points was adopted on December 19, 2007.
The rules and measures adopted mainly concern drinking and driving, speeding, photoradars and red-light cameras, driving courses, the use of cell phones while driving, and over-speed governors for certain heavy vehicles.
This legislation introduces more severe penalties for repeat offenders of impaired driving and excessive speeding. It allows for the implementation of a photoradar and red-light camera pilot project providing for three photoradar locations and the installation of red-light cameras at two intersections in each of the three pilot regions. These fifteen locations will be announced at a later date.
The law also provides for the institution of mandatory driving courses for new drivers and imposes probationary driver’s licences on all new drivers, including new drivers of 25+ years of age, as well as gradual access to demerit points for new drivers under 25. A driving course will also be mandatory for mopeds.
It will henceforth be forbidden for drivers to use a hand-held cell phone while driving. The activation of over-speed governors is now mandatory for certain heavy vehicles, and the maximum speed for these vehicles must be set at 105 km/h.
The law also provides for the obligation to equip vehicles with winter tires from December 15 to March 15, greater latitude for municipalities that regulate speed limits on their territory and the possibility to carry out pilot projects, in particular for new types of vehicles.
Effective Date of These Measures
New road safety measures come into force in Québec on April 1, 2008:
The use of hand-held cell phones will be banned from then on
Tougher penalties will be imposed on drivers guilty of excessive speeding
These new measures result from the adoption of the amendments to the Highway Safety Code last December (Bill 42).
Use of a cell phone while driving a vehicle is a source of major distractions, which can cause accidents. This is why any hand-held device with a telephone function, such as a cell phone or a mobile pocket PC (e.g., BlackBerry), will be banned starting April 1, 2008 while driving a vehicle.
An offence will result in a fine of $80 to $100 plus costs and three demerit points for drivers at fault. Over the next three months, offenders will receive a warning, but starting July 1, 2008, peace officers may issue a notice of offence. Use of a hand-free phone is still permitted but is not recommended, because it also represents a risk while driving.
Every year on Québec roads, speeding kills 250 people and injures over 11,000 more. To reverse this trend, tougher penalties will be in force starting April 1 to counter excessive speeding.
A driver will commit the offence of excessive speeding when he:
exceeds the permitted speed limit by 40 km/h or more in a zone in which speeds of 60 km/h or less are permitted;
exceeds the permitted speed limit by 50 km/h or more in a zone in which speeds are permitted of more than 60 km/h but no more than 90 km/h
exceeds the permitted speed limit by 60 km/h in a 100 km/h zone.
Compared to the existing penalties:
the number of demerit points will be doubled;
the amount of the fine will be doubled or tripled according to the number of excessive speeding offences in the driver’s record.
For example, if a driver is intercepted at 145 km/h in a 90 km/h zone and is found guilty, he will be liable to a fine of $710, including costs, and 10 demerit points. This judgment will also be included in his record for 10 years. This means that a driver who is intercepted again for another excessive speeding offence in that period could face even tougher penalties.
New penalties in force soon
Over the next few months, other penalties for excessive speeding will come into force on the date set by the Government of Québec.
Depending on the number of judgments recorded at the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec since April 1, 2008 and the speed permitted in the zone where this offence was committed, the driver could see:
his driver’s licence suspended for 7, 30 or 60 days;
the vehicle he is driving seized for 30 days.
Obligation to equip vehicles with winter tires from December 15 to March 15.
Photoradars, red-light cameras, over-speed governors and other measures: in 2008, dates to be set by executive order.