British Columbia has introduced tougher penalties for distracted drivers.

As of June 1st, people who are caught texting and driving will face a minimum fine of $368 and an additional $175 for four penalty points - a total of $543 for a first offence.

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris says the use of an electronic device and emailing or texting while driving will become a high-risk offence under the driver improvement program.

"This means that drivers who receive two or more tickets for distracted driving within a one year period will have their driving records automatically reviewed and face a possible driving prohibition of three to 12 months," Morris said.

The tough new sanctions follow a public consultation process on distracted driving.

"Ninety percent of the respondents said they were very concerned about distracted driving in B.C. and wanted higher fines and stiffer penalties for repeat offenders,” he said.

Morris said the stronger penalties will target irresponsible drivers where it hurts - their wallets.

He noted distracted driving claimed 66 lives and caused 630 injuries in B.C. in 2014.

Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone said on average, about 10 people lose their lives on Vancouver Island annually as a result of inattention to driving.

"There is no call, there is no text that is so important that it's worth risking your life and risking the lives of others around you.”