October 18, 2016, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
It seems people aren't getting the message on distracted driving. Watch at any stop sign, traffic light, or on the highway and it's easy to find people on their phones while driving. Some talking with the phone to their ear, others texting.
The number of deaths due to distracted driving has doubled since 2000 making it the leading cause of death on the road. Last year alone 69 lives were cut short because of this avoidable distraction in Ontario. According to the MTO website:
- One person is injured in a distracted driving crash in Ontario every half hour.
- A driver using a phone is four times more likely to crash.
There is simply no excuse to be checking your texts, Facebook, email, or picking a playlist, or holding your phone to your ear while you drive. There is no reason to either. In response to this the government released yet another education campaign focussing on the practice of putting down the phone. The campaign is graphic and shocking and was released across many platforms and in many versions. Some have described it as haunting and accurate. The campaign coincided with increased legal penalties for the practice.
It is now illegal to be holding your phone or other device (DVD, GPS, e-reader) in the car while driving. Penalties are dependant on the licence type and how long you’ve been driving.
From the MTO website:
Drivers with A to G licences
If you have an A, B, C, D, E, F and/or G licence, you’ll face bigger penalties when convicted of distracted driving:
- a fine of $490, 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
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:
- 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
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.