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Published June 8, 2020

Ontario driving penalties are currently the severest they’ve ever been – and with good reason. In 2016, the Ontario Provincial Police claimed distracted driving was the number one cause of fatal road collisions in Ontario1. The most recent stats (2013) posted on the Government of Ontario website state that one person is injured in a distracted driving collision every half hour2 – a pretty frightening realization. Elsewhere, 2019 saw the most Ottawa cycling casualties (4) in eight years.

On January 1, 2019, harsher punishments were introduced to combat distraction while driving in Ontario. Before starting your next car journey, it’s important to understand what the latest consequences are for distracted driving.

What does and doesn’t constitute distracted driving?

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation defines “distracted driving” as improper use of handheld communication/ entertainment devices while behind the wheel. It’s now illegal to:

  • Operate cell phones to talk, text, type, dial or email
  • Operate a tablet, laptop, music player or portable gaming console
  • View unrelated display screens (e.g. A YouTube video)
  • Program a GPS device by hand

The following actions do not constitute distracted driving:

  • Dialling 911 in an emergency
  • Operating hands-free wireless communication devices with an earpiece, lapel button or Bluetooth
  • Viewing securely mounted or dashboard-based GPS devices

The following actions are not part of Ontario’s distracted driving law but could see you charged with careless or dangerous driving.

  • Drinking
  • Eating
  • Grooming
  • Reaching for objects
  • Reading
  • Smoking

What new distracted driving fines exist?

For drivers holding licences A to G (plus M), first time offenders now receive up to a $1,000 fine, three demerit points and a three-day licence suspension. For repeat offenders, the fines are worse. A second offence sees up to a $2,000 fine, six demerit points and a seven-day licence suspension imposed while a third offence sees up to a $3,000 fine, six demerit points and a 30-day licence suspension.

Novice drivers aren’t immune either. Facing the same distracted driving fines as experienced drivers, demerit points aren’t withdrawn. However, these are replaced with longer licence suspensions – 30 days for first convictions and 90 days for second convictions. In the event of a third conviction, a novice drivers’ licence will be cancelled and they will be removed from the Graduated Licensing System (GLS).

We can help you get the car or bicycle accident settlement you deserve

Car and bicycle accidents happen every day in Ontario. If you’ve been involved in an accident and it wasn’t your fault, MG Law can help. Bilingual bicycle accident lawyer Allison Lubeck and our team will help you navigate the legal, insurance and healing processes.

Call (613) 730-8640 to learn more. There is no place for negligent drivers on the road. With MG Law, you don’t have to face the aftermath of a car or bicycle accident alone.


1 Statistics accurate as of 10 March 2017 as sourced from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website on June 1, 2020
2 Statistics accurate as of 2013 as sourced from the Government of Ontario website on June 1, 2020
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