Penalties increased for distracted driving in Ontario

Published On January 29, 2019 | By Alan Jose | News

A lady driver caught for using their cellphone and holding a cup behind the wheel while driving. (York Region Police)

Alan Jose

The Ontario government implemented harder punishments for distracted drivers starting from Jan. 1.

“Drivers convicted for distracted driving shall be punished with demerit points, a hefty fine, and a license suspension,” Toronto Police stated in a prepared statement.

Among the changes adopted New Years Day is a new minimum fine of distracted driving for the first offence has increased to $615 with a maximum of up to $1,000 and three demerit points. But the province also added a three-day suspension for the first conviction.

The prior minimum fine was $490, said Toronto Police community relations officer Constable Jag Bhogal.

Bhogal said the severity of the penalties increase with the number of convictions.

He also said a second offence within five years boosts the fine up to $2,000, six demerit points, and a seven-day suspension.

The distracted driver convicted for a third offence within five years, confront a fine of up to $3,000, six demerit points and a 30-day suspension, Bhogal said.

Officers won’t be permitted to take the driver’s licence at the roadside. Only under a judge’s endorsement and after the driver is discovered blameworthy, will the driver’s licence be suspended.

Hamilton factory worker Tijomon George said the severity of the penalties should make people drive more carefully.

The Ontario government posted a quick overview of activities considered as careless driving and the statistics of its aftereffects. Anything that causes a driver to be less focused on the road constitutes distracted driving, including eating, smoking or entering a GPS location on a device.

The Ontario Provincial Police will be closely observing drivers to crack down on the distracted driving issue and hopefully reduce the number of distracted-related accidents.

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