Updated Distracted Driving Laws Now In Effect & Disregard Will Cost You Money!

Updated Distracted Driving Laws Now In Effect

According to the Ministry of Transportation website, in Ontario, deaths from collisions caused by distracted driving have doubled since 2000.  Further, 2013 provincial data indicates that 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.

Starting January 1st 2019, knew increased penalties in regards to distracted driving take effect.

There are two main categories in regards to distracted driving.

Highway Traffic Act Section 78 – Distracted by handheld and entertainment devices:

Section 78 of the Highway Traffic Act relates to using handheld communication or entertainment devices, and driving with a display screen visible to the driver.  This legislation means that no driver can handle a cellphone for any purpose (phoning, texting, entering information into GPS, etc) while operate a motor vehicle on a roadway.  This includes being stopped at a red light.  This also means the driver cannot have an entertainment purpose screen visible to them while driving such as watching a movie or reading emails on a tablet, phone, or laptop for example.

There are few exemptions which include a driver making an emergency phone call to fire, ambulance, or police.  For example to report a suspected impaired driver.  The legislation also does not apply to police, fire and ambulance personnel while operating a department vehicle.

If convicted of one of these Highway Traffic Act Section 78 laws, 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:

  • First conviction:
    • a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
    • a fine of up to $1,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
    • three demerit points
    • 3-day licence suspension
  • 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
    • six demerit points
    • 7-day licence suspension
  • 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
    • six demerit points
    • 30-day licence 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:

  • a 30-day licence suspension for a first conviction
  • a 90-day licence suspension for a second conviction
  • cancellation of your licence and removal from the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) for a third conviction
    • to get your licence back you’d have to redo the GLS program

 

Highway Traffic Act Section 130 – Careless Driving:

You could face more charges – for careless driving – if you endanger other people because of any kind of distraction. This includes distraction caused by both hand-held (e.g., phone) or hands-free (e.g., Bluetooth) devices, eating, putting on make-up, or any distraction that causes you to not pay due care and attention and ultimately causes a dangerous situation or collision.

If convicted of careless driving, you may receive:

  • six demerit points
  • fines up to $2,000 and/or
  • a jail term of up to six months
  • a licence suspension of up to two years

If convicted of careless causing bodily harm or death:

  • 6 demerit points
  • Fines up to $50,000 and/or
  • A jail term of up to two years
  • A licence suspension up to five years

“Shelburne Police continues to make roadway safety one of our priorities”, states Sgt. Paul Neumann.  “We have three major routes that intersect in our small town, Hwy 10, Hwy 89, and County Road 124.  These routes are heavily travelled year round, but especially for ski country traffic in the winter, and cottage traffic in the summer.  We constantly are enforcing these routes as well as the side streets that many drivers try to use to avoid the heavy traffic on the main roads.  Our goal is to help promote safe driving practices.  We will be enforcing these stricter penalties and hope they encourage all drivers to put safety first.  Leave your phone and other electronics devices alone while you drive.  Use hands-free technology such as Bluetooth instead.  Or even better, pull off the roadway in a safe place to adjust your GPS, text or make a phone call.”

The above media release provided by Shelburne Police Services.