According to Scott Thompson, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan’s new distracted driving penalties “disproportionately affect people living in poverty,” Global News is reporting.
“We want to stop these behaviours by using punishment, but the problem is that not all populations are going to feel this equally,” said Thompson.
Starting Feb. 1, the fine for the first offence in Saskatchewan has skyrocketed to $580 from the original $280 ticket, whereas a second offence now costs $1,400 and a third, $2,100. An SGI spokesperson told the publication that over 10,000 distracted driving tickets were issued across the province.
“When we break [the fine] down by monthly income, we can see a large disparity in how people are going to feel this,” Thompson said:
“A lot of people say, ‘OK, well you shouldn’t do the crime unless you [can] do the time,’” Thompson told Global News.
“[But] when certain people are being punished way more than others and we have an inequality in our society, then we really need to look at the question of, ‘Is putting someone into debt a way of solving these types of problems, or is it the best way of solving these problems?’”
Those who can’t or don’t want to pay provincial or municipal fines can work them off with volunteer labour. Last year, 1,908 people worked off 2,628 fines in Saskatoon.