With the start of the new year, Ontario has enacted new penalties for distracted drivers.
Under the new rules, which came into effect January 01, 2019, drivers caught talking, texting, dialing or emailing on a handheld device will now be served a $1,000 fine – more than twice the amount of original fines.
Other penalties have also been added, such as a three-day licence suspension and three demerit points.
“It’s really going to cost you, but there’s a reason for that,” explained Ottawa police constable Sean Ralph. “It’s a major infraction right up there with impaired driving.”
Drivers who receive a second conviction within five years will have to pay an increased fine of $2,000. They will also get six demerit points and have their licence suspended for seven days.
Further convictions within that five-year period would result in $3,000 fines, six demerit points per conviction, and a 30-day suspension.
CBC News reported that convicted motorists can also expect their insurance rates to go up as a result of the convictions.
New drivers – those with a graduated (G1, G2, M1, and/or M2) also face stiffer penalties.
Those new drivers who break the new laws will not only be fined as much as their more experienced counterparts, they will also face the following consequences:
- 30-day license suspensions for a first conviction;
- 90-day suspensions for a second conviction;
- Licence cancellations for a third conviction.
All penalties are the same, whether the driver is using a cellphone while driving or sitting at a red light.
Ontario police say that the leading cause of fatal collisions in the province is distracted drivers.