July 01, 2016, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
If someone said to another that now in Ontario, someone charged with distracted driving could be fined up to $490-$1,000, and be given three demerit points, would that be enough to convince people to put their phone down? Across Canada, distracted driving is becoming a prominent issue. Studies done in Ontario found that in 2013, one person was injured in a distracted-driving accident every half an hour.
In this province, it is against the law to use hand-held devices like cell phones, smart phones, iPods or MP3 players, laptops, GPS, and DVD players while driving. Staring at anything other than the road is distracted driving. People eating or reading while driving can also be charged with distracted driving. In the Highway Traffic Act, if someone was charged with careless driving or even dangerous driving, they could have their license suspended, lose their license, or do jail time.
Distracted driving, careless driving, and dangerous driving—what do these terms mean? Distracted driving is any activity that causes you to divert your attention from the road; careless driving is when your distracted driving causes endangerment to the lives of others. Dangerous driving is when someone is injured, or even dies, because of your distracted driving.
Punishments vary with accordance to the crime, and distracted driving charges are dependent upon what type of license the driver has. Drivers who are fully licensed (and this includes A, B, C, D, E, F, or G licenses) are fined up to $490, or $1,000 if the person has received a summons (an official order). The driver will also have three demerit points appear on their record. On the other hand, drivers who don’t have their full G license, such as G1 or G2, face temporary license suspensions during their first two offenses (30 days and 90 days), and then on the third offense, will have their license cancelled and removed from the system, forcing them to re-take their driver’s education training.
While distracted driving charges are different for specific licenses, careless driving and dangerous driving charges apply equally to both. A careless driving charge will result in six demerit points, fines up to $2,000, and jail time for six months. A dangerous driving charge means either ten years in jail for bodily harm, or fourteen years for causing death.
Is there a way to avoid distracted driving? Absolutely! The Ontario Ministry of Transportation allows drivers to use “hands-free” devices while driving, devices that are mounted to the person’s vehicle, display screens built into the car, and ignition interlock devices ( i.e. a breathalyzer). They also advise drivers to safely pull over when they need to use their phones. They also provided tips like asking passengers to take calls or send texts, or to pre-record a message before driving that one won’t be able to answer their phone, letting them know the driver will get back to them soon.
So save some battery power, and don’t drive distracted.
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Written by Ariel Deutschmann