distracted driving ontario laws

Fines for texting and driving in Ontario are about to skyrocket

Starting tomorrow, Ontario will have the toughest distracted driving laws in all of Canada.

It's a 2019 regulatory change that police hope will curb what's become a leading cause of fatal collisions in the province—and one that will see fines for using a phone behind the wheel more than double to $1,000 on the first offence and, in some cases, lead to the complete cancellation of an offender's licence.

Oddly enough, it's all part of a cannabis-related bill passed by Ontario's Liberal government back in 2017.

Bill 174, which goes into effect on January 1, makes a number of amendments to The Highway Traffic Act, mostly in regards to driving under the influence of drugs.

One section, however, includes a new provision that also increases penalties for "the offence of driving while a display screen is visible to the driver, or driving while holding a hand-held wireless communication device or similar device."

The law mandates that distracted drivers be fined a minimum of $500 up to a maximum of $3,000, plus three demerit points (hello higher insurance rates) for even looking at a digital screen while driving.

Licences will be suspended for between three and 30 days, except for in the case of drivers who don't yet have a full G license. They face a 30 day suspension on first conviction, 90 days for the second, and the cancellation of their license entirely if busted for a third time.

"Using your phone to talk, text, check maps or choose a playlist while you're behind the wheel all count as distracted driving," reads the government's website.

"Other activities like eating, reading or typing a destination into a GPS are also dangerous when you’re behind the wheel," it continues.

"It doesn't matter if you’re on a highway or stopped at a red light – distracted driving could cost you."

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert


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