With the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) set to conduct its Distracted Driving Campaign during March Break, drivers caught using their cell phones may also get caught off guard by the tougher penalties that took effect on January 1, 2019.
The new penalties include a fine increase up to $1,000, three demerit points and a three-day licence suspension. The penalties increase with subsequent offences. For novice drivers in the graduated licencing system, there is no fine or additional demerit points but longer licence suspensions now apply.
The deaths of 55 people and more than 9,115 collisions were linked to an inattentive driver on OPP-patrolled roads in 2018. The OPP laid 13,529 Distracted Driving charges last year against drivers who chose to make roads unsafe by dividing their attention between driving and using a hand-held electronic device.
“Among the most dangerous drivers are those who continue to ignore the facts and convince themselves that using a cell phone while driving is not dangerous and forms part of today’s driving culture. Never let a driver use this, or any other justification for using a hand-held device while driving. It is as dangerous a driving behaviour today as it was when Ontario’s Distracted Driving laws came into force ten years ago”.
– Interim Commissioner Gary Couture, Ontario Provincial Police.