There are stronger penalties and counts for distracted driving in Ontario wef 1st Jan 2019
- First time offence will be fined CA$615
- Second time offence will be fined CA$2000
- Third time offence will be fined CA$3000
New rules have been imposed on those who will use their smartphones while driving. Under the new rules, a first-time offence will result in a fine of CA$615, plus three demerit points and a three-day licence suspension upon conviction. A second offence will see a fine of up to $2,000, with six demerit points and a seven-day suspension. Finally a third or subsequent offence will result in a fine of up to $3,000 with six demerit points, and a 30-day suspension.
The police department wants you to put your phone away when driving. They also have notified that there will be even license suspensions and increased in penalties if the offender continues using mobile while driving.
Note that under Ontario law, distracted driving includes things like eating, reading, or entering an address on a GPS device while driving. If you’re on a roadway, and in the operation of your vehicle, even if it is stopped at a stop light, you cannot have a cell phone in your hand. So this means it’s not just talking on your cell phone but if you’re just holding it to look at it, that’s an offence as well.
Distracted Driving with your cell phone
Using your phone to talk, text, check maps or choose a playlist while you’re behind the wheel all count as distracted driving – and they put you and others at risk. Also as said above other activities like eating, reading or typing a destination into a GPS are also dangerous when you’re behind the wheel. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a highway or stopped at a red light – distracted driving could cost you.
In Ontario, deaths from collisions caused by distracted driving have doubled since 2000.
Ontario data on collisions from 2013 show one person is injured in a distracted-driving collision every half hour and a driver using a phone is four times more likely to crash than a driver focusing on the road
Penalties for distracted driving
The easiest way to avoid penalties for distracted driving is to not use a hand-held device when you’re behind the wheel.
It’s against the law to use hand-held communication which is your mobile and electronic entertainment devices like a DVD player, e-reader or tablet while driving.
What you can do is while driving is that you are allowed to use a hands-free device (e.g. Bluetooth) but only to turn it on and off; a mounted device (e.g. phone, GPS) as long as it is secure – not moving around while driving.
If convicted, the penalty you face depends on the kind of licence you hold and how long you’ve been driving.
If you have an A, B, C, D, E, F and/or G licence, you’ll face bigger penalties when convicted of distracted driving
- On first conviction a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee) and a fine of up to $1,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose plus three demerit points and 3-day suspension
- On your second conviction a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee), a fine of up to $2,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose with six demerit points and 7-day suspension.
- On your third and any further conviction(s) a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee), a fine of up to $3,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose with six demerit points and 30-day suspension.
If you hold a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence, and are convicted of distracted driving, you’ll face the same fines as drivers with A to G licences. But you won’t receive any demerit points.
Instead of demerit points you’ll face longer suspensions like a 30-day licence suspension for a first conviction, a 90-day licence suspension for a second conviction and cancellation of your licence and removal from the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) for a third conviction and to get your licence back you’d have to redo the GLS program
You could face more charges – for careless driving – if you endanger other people because of any kind of distraction. If convicted of careless driving, you may receive six demerit points, fines up to $2,000 and/or a jail term of six months and licence suspension of up to two years
You could even be charged with dangerous driving – a criminal offence that carries heavier penalties, including jail terms of up to 10 years for causing bodily harm or up to 14 years for causing death.
What you can do to avoid penalties using mobile while driving
The best to avoid distracted driving and penalties you should turn off your phone or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car. Also put it in the glove compartment (lock it, if you have to) or in a bag on the back seat. Before you leave the house, record an outgoing message that tells callers you’re driving and you’ll get back to them when you’re off the road. In fact there are some apps that can block incoming calls and texts, or send automatic replies to people trying to call or text you. In case you are urgent to call or use your mobile then better ask a passenger to take a call or respond to a text for you and if you must respond, or have to make a call or send a text, carefully pull over to a safe area
Best option is to silence notifications that tempt you to check your phone. In an emergency, you can use your phone to call 911, but be sure to pull off the road to a safe area to make the call.