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Don’t Drive Distracted

Ontario has tough distracted driving laws. 

Changing your playlist, checking your GPS, eating, using your phone to talk or text are all considered distracted driving. These put you and others at risk for an accident.

Convicted distracting driving charges not only come with hefty fines and carry demerit points but can also affect your auto insurance premium. You can lose your valuable conviction free discount and even be surcharged for major offences. Tickets stay on your record for three years from the conviction date. 

Here’s a list of some penalties for distracted driving that you should know about:  

First conviction 

  • $615 fine if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee) 
  • Up to $1,000 fine if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose 
  • Three demerit points 
  • Three-day suspension 

Second conviction 

  • $615 fine, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee) 
  • Up to $2,000 fine if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose 
  • Six demerit points 
  • Seven-day suspension 

 

Third and any further conviction(s) 

  • $615 fine, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee) 
  • Up to $3,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose 
  • Six demerit points 
  • 30-day suspension 

 

Distracted driving can be defined as any act the driver engages in which causes their judgment to be compromised, when not focused on the road. The Ontario Highway Traffic Act specifically outlines the use of a hand-held or electronic entertainment device for anyone who is uncertain. 
 

The Government of Ontario’s website provides tips to avoid distracted driving: 

  • Turn off your phone or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car. 
  • 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. 
  • Some apps can block incoming calls and texts, or send automatic replies to people trying to call or text you. 
  • Ask a passenger to take a call or respond to a text for you. 
  • Silence notifications that tempt you to check your phone. 

 

If there’s an urgent need to use your phone, you should find a place to legally park. In an emergency, you can use your phone to call 911, ensure you have pulled off the road or highway and are in a safe area to do so. If you must use your phone while driving, hands free modes are permitted. For navigation a cradle mount should be used.