Ontario's distracted driving laws have MUCH harsher punishments as of January 1, 2019

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If you’re reading this while driving, stop reading and throw your phone in the rear seat of your vehicle.
There is absolutely no reason to text/read while driving. None. Zero. Period. Full stop. 30. XXX.

Thankfully, as of January 1st, 2019, Ontario’s laws on distracted driving are becoming much more severe with much harsher punishments.

How severe?

  • A 3 day suspension and a $1,000 fine for your first offence

  • A 7 day suspension and a $2,000 fine for your second offence

  • A 30 days suspension, a $3,000 fine, and 6 demerit points for 3 or more offences

Your insurance will skyrocket and if you’re a repeat offender, good luck getting affordable (or any) auto insurance at all.

If you’re charged with using a handheld device while driving it’s a minor conviction going on your driving record for 3 (three) years, which is the equivalent of getting a speeding ticket for going below 50 km/h.
If you cause a collision while using a handheld device, you could also be slammed with careless driving, which is a severely serious offence.

Why the not-so-pleasant tone of this article?

This is why - Ontario data on collisions from 2013 show:

  • one person is injured in a distracted-driving collision every half hour

  • a driver using a phone is four times more likely to crash than a driver focusing on the road

Distracted driving is classified as doing the following while driving, regardless if you’re in motion or stopped at a red light/stop sign:

Using a hand-held communication device (your phone) to talk (without Bluetooth hands free) and or text, which includes posting to your social media account

Checking/entering information into your map application on your smartphone

Choosing/changing a playlist

Using electronic entertainment devices (DVD player, e-reader)

Reading books or documents

Importantly, just holding a phone or other device while driving is against the law.
The “but Officer, I wasn’t actually driving, I was stopped at a light/stop sign/in traffic” excuse certainly will not be received well.

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Another important point to mention is that if you’ve got a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence, and convicted of distracted driving, you’re subject to the same fines as drivers with A to G licences but will not receive any demerit points.
But it’s far worse because if you fall into the aforementioned categories, you’re going to get nailed with:

  • 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 for a third conviction

If you’re in that much of an urgent situation to text someone/post to your social media account/put info into a map application/eat/read, pull over somewhere safe (parking lot, side street, not a high traffic road) shut off your car fully and do whatever it is you need to do.

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