What you need to know about Ontario’s new distracted driving laws

Distracted driving has been identified time and time again as a major contributor to motor vehicle collisions on our roadways. In fact, according to the Canadian Automobile Association’s (CAA) distracted driving statistics, 80 per cent of all collisions have some form of driver distraction as a contributing factor. Because of this, the Government of Ontario has continued to take necessary action to reduce the number of distracted driving collisions on our streets.

An action that the Government of Ontario hopes to see contribute positively to a reduction in motor vehicle collisions is a new set of stricter laws. These new distracted driving laws came into effect on January 1, 2019. The new laws are now allowing police officers to enforce stricter penalties and higher fines for those found driving while distracted. Below is a summary of key things you need to know about the new laws.

New Penalties

Under the new distracted driving laws, those convicted of distracted driving will face increased fines and stricter penalties. The extent of these fines and penalties is based on the number of related offences the driver has faced in the past and their class of driver’s licence. For a first-time offence, the A-G licenced driver will be subject to a three-day license suspension and a fine of up to $1,000. For a second offence, the A-G licenced driver will face a seven-day suspension and a fine of up to $2,000. For three or more offences, the A-G licenced driver will get a 30-day suspension, a fine of up to $3,000 and six demerit points. Novice drivers holding a G1, G2, or M2 licence who are convicted of distracted driving will face the same fines as more experienced drivers. While novice drivers won’t receive demerit points, they will face longer suspension. For a first conviction, the novice driver will face a 30-day licence suspension. For a second conviction, the novice driver will get a 90-day licence suspension. For a third conviction, the novice driver’s licence will be cancelled.

Distracted Driving is More Than Just Texting

When people hear the term distracted driving, most people automatically assume that distracted driving laws only apply to using a mobile phone while driving. However, distracted driving laws also apply to holding a hand-held electronic device, viewing display screens unrelated to driving, and typing a destination into a GPS.

While actions such as eating, drinking, reading and smoking are not subject to Ontario’s distracted driving laws, they may result in a charge of careless or dangerous driving.

No More Warnings for Distracted Drivers

In an effort to tackle the growing problem of distracted driving, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have warned that they will no longer be letting people off easy. That means that OPP officers will now be skipping the warning phase right to handing out fines and suspensions.

What to Do If You’re Injured by a Distracted Driver

While larger fines and stricter penalties will hopefully lead to a decline in distracted driving collisions, the unfortunate reality is that accidents do still happen. If you are involved in a motor vehicle collision that is caused by a distracted driver, it’s important to know what steps to take. In a situation like this, it’s important to:

  • Seek medical attention immediately;
  • Report the collision to the authorities;
  • Document the situation as best as possible (take photos of injuries, the scene of the incident etc.); and,
  • Contact a professional personal injury lawyer.

Contact Harrison Pensa

Contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer will help you understand the legal options you have available to you. If you’ve sustained injuries as a result of the collision, you may be entitled to compensation for those injuries. At Harrison Pensa, our dedicated team of knowledgeable lawyers will help guide you through the legal process and get you the results you deserve. Contact our office today for a free consultation by calling 1-855-744-9228 or by emailing personalinjurygroup@harrisonpensa.com.

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