Distracted driving in Ontario got more expensive with the arrival of the new year.

Fines and other penalties have increased significantly.  If a police officer catches you using a hand-held cell phone behind the wheel, the maximum immediate fine for a first offence is now $1,000,  up from $490.   You also earn three demerit points and lose your licence for three days.  And it increases for subsequent offences.

Timmins Police communications co-ordinator Marc Depatie says penalties are even more severe for novice drivers, because they’re proven to commit the infraction more often than more experienced motorists.

“With that in mind, drivers who carry a G1, G2, or an M1, M2 licence would be subjected to the same penalties, but a 30-day suspension would follow for a first offence;” Depatie points out, “90 days for a second offence; and a driver’s licence cancellation if they are convicted for a third or subsequent violation in relation to distracted driving.”

Depatie emphasizes that while electronic devices are the most frequent distractions, the law applies to anything that takes your attention away from driving.

“Don’t eat breakfast, don’t do your make-up, don’t balance your chequebook, you’re driving a motor vehicle.  That demands all of your attention, all of the time.”

DISTRACTED DRIVING PENALTIES EFFECTIVE JAN. 1, 2019

  • First offence: Max. fine $1,000 + 3 demerit pts. + 3-day licence suspension
  • Second offence: Max. fine $2,000 + 6 demerit pts. + 7-day licence suspension
  • Subsequent offences: Max. fine $3,000 + 6 demerit pts. + 3-day licence suspension
  • Novice driver first offence: as above but 30-day suspension
  • Novice driver second offence: as above but 90-day suspension
  • Novice driver subsequent offence: as above but licence cancellation

Source: Marc Depatie, Communications Co-ordinator, Timmins Police Service