Here's When Tougher Distracted Driving Rules Are Coming to Halton
Put down your phone and stop eating behind the wheel - Ontario’s distracted driving laws are getting tougher, and harsher penalties are coming to drivers who break the rules.
In August 2017, the province implemented new rules for distracted driving that penalize drivers for any manner of being distracted or careless while driving.
But even harsher penalties are coming. The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has confirmed that tougher distracted driving penalties are coming into effect on January 1, 2019.
The province passed the Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017, in December 2017.
“The new Act strengthens existing road safety laws in relation to areas such as distracted driving,” an MTO spokesperson told inhalton.com.
This includes increased penalties and demerit points, and introducing post-conviction driver’s licence suspensions for distracted driving.
According to the MTO, if you’re pulled over you’ll receive a summons to court.
And if you’re convicted?
Here’s a breakdown:
- First conviction: $500-$1,000 fine, 3 demerit points, and a 3-day suspension
- Second conviction: $500-$2,000 fine, 6 demerit points, and a 7-day suspension.
- Third and any subsequent conviction(s): $500-$3,000 fine, 6 demerit points, and a 30-day suspension
For repeat offenders, an escalating penalty structure will be in effect - meaning if you’re caught driving distracted or carelessly more than once, your penalties will be worse every time.
Novice drivers will be subject to the same escalating fines as a fully-licenced driver, too, with 30-day suspension, 90-day suspention, and finally, driver’s licence cancellation in accordance with the conviction.
It’s a lot to pay for not putting your phone away.
Currently, distracted drivers pay $490 for a first offence settled out of court, up to $1,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose, and three demerit points.
Here’s what counts as distracted driving across the province, regardless of where you are on the road:
- Holding or touching your phone
- Using your phone to make or answer a call
- Using your phone to text
- Using your phone to check maps
- Using your phone to choose a playlist or change a song
- Eating behind the wheel
- Reading or typing a destination into a GPS
- Reading or holding a document
According to the province, you can 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 - it’s not moving around while driving
Crashes caused by distracted driving in Ontario have doubled since 2000, reads a recent release from the province.
What do you think of the new rules?
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