Drivers convicted of distracted driving under the new laws will be punished with a licence suspension, a hefty fine and demerit points. The severity of the punishment increases with the number of subsequent offences committed:
Police will not be able to seize driver’s licences at roadside. They would have to get the approval of a judge in order to be able to suspend any driver’s licences.
“It will not be a roadside suspension by a police officer, it will be conviction at court for an offence of distracted driving. Once you’re convicted, whether it is through a guilty plea or trial, you will lose your licence for three, seven or 30 days,” Toronto police Const. Clint Stibbe said.
Distracted driving is no longer limited to just texting and making phone calls. The Government of Ontario has posted a list of activities that counts as distracted driving and it includes anything from simply holding an electronic device in one’s hand to eating while behind the wheel.
There have also been cases where people have been convicted of distracted driving for seemingly harmless deeds such as wearing earphones or looking at a smart watch while driving. This could open up a few grey areas with regards to the new laws.
According to the government, distracted driving is anything that causes a driver to be less focused on the road; however, some drivers could argue that such definition is subjective.
The OPP have announced that they will no longer let people off with a warning if they are caught distracted driving. This means guilty offenders will automatically be slapped with straight fines.
The automatic suspension of driver’s licences, as well as the charging fines of $1,000 or over, will be imposed on convicted distracted drivers under the updated regulations. But what counts as distracted driving in Ontario?
According to the official Government of Ontario website, anything that causes a driver to be less focused on the road constitutes distracted driving. These include activities such as:
Distracted driving is not limited to just the the use of electronics, as most people assume. Doing any of the aforementioned activities while behind the wheel makes you guilty of distracted driving, even if you’re on the highway or stopped at a red light.
What you can use, however, are:
These rules were enforced as of August 31, 2017, but more restrictions may have been added by then (e.g., doing makeup).
According to provincial road statistics, deaths from collisions have doubled since 2000. One person is injured in a distracted-driving collision every half hour, and drivers using their phones are four times more likely to crash.
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