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In Ontario, distracted driving collisions causing death have doubled since the year 2000. Data on collisions from 2013 show that one person is injured in a distracted driving collision every 30 minutes and a driver using a phone is four times more likely to crash than a driver focusing on the road.

So what counts as distracted driving?

Using your phone to text, talk, check maps or any other app usage while you are driving would be considered distracted driving. You can be charged with careless or dangerous driving for smoking, drinking, eating or using your GPS while driving if you endanger other drivers. It’s worth noting that it doesn’t matter if you’re driving on the highway, in the city or at a stop light, you could be charged with distracted driving if you are using your phone while behind the wheel.

Penalties for distracted driving

If you have an A, B, C, D, E, F, G and/or M licence, you’ll face bigger penalties when convicted of distracted driving:

First conviction:

  • a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
  • a fine of up to $1,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
  • three demerit points
  • 3-day suspension

Second conviction:

  • a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
  • a fine of up to $2,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
  • six demerit points
  • 7-day suspension

Third and any further conviction(s):

  • a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
  • a fine of up to $3,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
  • six demerit points
  • 30-day suspension

If you hold a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence, and are convicted of distracted driving, you’ll face the same fines as drivers with A to G licences. But you won’t receive any demerit points.

Instead of demerit points you’ll face longer suspensions:

  • a 30-day licence suspension for a first conviction
  • a 90-day licence suspension for a second conviction
  • cancellation of your licence and removal from the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) for a third conviction
  • to get your licence back you’d have to redo the GLS program

Careless Driving

You could face more charges – for careless driving – if you endanger other people because of any kind of distraction. This includes distraction caused by both hand-held (e.g., phone) or hands-free (e.g., Bluetooth) devices.

If convicted of careless driving, you may receive:

  • six demerit points
  • fines up to $2,000 and/or
  • a jail term of six months
  • a licence suspension of up to two years

You could even be charged with dangerous driving – a criminal offence that carries heavier penalties, including jail terms of up to 10 years for causing bodily harm or up to 14 years for causing death.

No one plans on having an accident, so when you are behind the wheel you should be focusing on the road and not your phone. The best way to avoid accidents and/or potential distracted driving charges is to put your phone away while driving. This could save you money, a suspension, jail time or even save someones life.

 

Resource: Government of Ontario website