Any grace period for enforcement of new stiffer distracted driving laws has ended.  Police have announced that they will no longer let people off with a warning if caught distracted driving.  Offenders will automatically be fined. Fines vary by province but can be up to $3,000 in some jurisdictions. “The time for warnings is certainly gone, warnings served a purpose at the initial stages when people were transitioning to this law, but this law has been in effect for a number of years now. There is no reason why a driver needs to be distracted.” Said OPP Sgt, David Rektor.

Penalties in Ontario are among the harshest. Drivers convicted of distracted driving will be punished with a license suspension, hefty fine and demerit points. The severity of the punishment increases with the number of subsequent offences:

First offence: 3 day suspension, $3,000 fine

Second offence: 7 day suspension and $5,000 fine

Third offence: 30 day suspension, $10,000 fine, six demerit points

Police do not have the authority to seize drivers licenses at roadside. They need the approval of a judge in order to suspend a license. The CAA has a complete list of cell phone/distracted driving legislation in Canada on its website caa.ca

Distracted driving is no longer limited to using a cell phone.  The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators defines distracted driving as: “The diversion of attention from driving, as a result of the driver focusing on a non-driving object, activity, event or person.” As well, the RCMP has posted examples of distracted driving on its website that include eating or drinking, grooming, programming a GPS among others.  For more information go to rcmp-grc.gc.ca

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