By CRM staff
Toronto, Ontario -- January 1, 2019 -- Ontario is raising the stakes when it comes to distracted driving fines.
Starting this year, if drivers are caught distracted behind the wheel they will be subject to harsher penalties, including: license suspensions, increased demerit points and an increase to the minimum financial penalty that can be charged to guilty drivers.
"CAA fully supports the increased fines and penalties that will be in place for distracted driving starting tomorrow," said Elliott Silverstein, manager, government relations, CAA SCO. "Hopefully these new rules will encourage motorists to remain focused on the road and keep devices far from reach when operating their vehicle."
Distracted driving continues to be an issue in Ontario, almost a decade after the initial legislation banning handheld devices came into effect. The new legislation is the first increase in penalties since September 2015, when demerit points were added to distracted driving convictions.
According to a recent research from CAA, one in three Ontario drivers claim to engage in distracted driving as a result of using a mobile device. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation explained that one person is injured in a distracted driving collision every half an hour.
"The new fines and penalties are some of the strongest in the country, and they will further aid law enforcement in their continued effort to make road conditions safer for everyone," continued Silverstein.
The following fines and penalties will come into effect for distracted drivers in Ontario starting January 1, 2019.
- The minimum financial penalty will increase from $490 to $615.
- A first conviction for distracted driving will now result in a three-day licence suspension, three demerit points and a minimum financial penalty of $615.
- A second conviction will result in a financial penalty of up to $2000 (previously up to $1000), six demerit points and a seven-day licence suspension.
- For third (or more) convictions, drivers will face a financial penalty of up to $3000 (previously up to $1000), six demerit points and a 30-day licence suspension.