FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act with the aim of improving road safety.

“After consultations with various organizations, groups and departments it was determined that the act needs updates to protect residents, police officers and peace officers,” said Public Safety Minister Kris Austin.

The proposed amendments include:

  • increasing penalties for extreme speeding;
  • requiring everyone whose driver’s licence has been expired for five years or more to re-take the written and road test; and
  • amending the definition of authorized emergency vehicle.

Currently, there are no laws specifically related to extreme speeding, also known as “stunting,” in New Brunswick. Other provinces have provisions such as higher fines, mandatory impoundment of vehicles and increased demerit points for extreme speeding which, Austin said, have reduced incidences of excessive speeding and fatal collisions.

As it stands, the penalties for driving 50 km/h over the speed limit are the same as driving 85 km/h over the speed limit: a $500 fine and five demerit points.

The amendments would create two new categories: driving 50-80 km/h over the speed limit and driving more than 80 km/h over the speed limit.

Anyone caught driving between 50-80 km/h over the speed limit would have their vehicle impounded for seven days, in addition to the current penalties of a $500 fine and five points off their licence.

Anyone caught driving more than 80 km/h over the speed limit would have their vehicle impounded for 30 days, be fined $1,000 and lose six points off their licence.

In the interests of public safety, it has been the practice of the Department of Justice and Public Safety to require those who have let their licence expire for five years or more to re-take the written and road test.

While this is the established practice, it is not supported by any provision of the act. The amendments would give the department statutory authority to re-test individuals whose licence has expired for five years or more.

Highways in New Brunswick have cross-over sections that can be used by authorized vehicles. It is an offence under the act for passenger vehicles to use a cross-over. However, the act only defines authorized emergency vehicle and does not explicitly define authorized vehicle.

As a result, there have been several instances where individuals have contested the fine in court and were not convicted because the judge agreed that authorized vehicle is not defined under the act. The proposed amendment would remedy this discrepancy by clarifying that the expression also means authorized vehicle.