Distracted Driving Changes in 2019

Ontario Distracted Driving

Ontario has introduced tough new distracted driving laws. Changing your playlist, checking your GPS, eating, using your phone to talk or text are all considered distracted driving that not only put you at risk for accident but also others. Effective January 1st 2019, some drivers may have already noticed higher fines and tougher penalties for distracted driving. New penalties for distracted driving (with an A to G licence):

First conviction

  • a fine of $615, 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
  • 3-day suspension

Second conviction

  • a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
  • a fine of up to $2,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
  • six demerit points
  • 7-day suspension

Third and any further conviction(s)

  • a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
  • a fine of up to $3,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
  • six demerit points
  • 30-day suspension

Convicted distracting driving charges not only come with hefty fines and carry demerit points but can also affect your auto insurance premium. You can loose your valuable conviction free discount and even be surcharged for major offences. Tickets stay on your record for three years from the conviction date.

Distracted driving can be defined as any act the driver engages in which causes their judgment to be compromised, when not focused on the road. The Ontario Highway Traffic Act specifically outlines the use of a hand-held or electronic entertainment device for anyone who is uncertain.
The Government of Ontario’s website provides tips to avoid distracted driving.


Use any of these tips to avoid distracted driving and its penalties:

  • Turn off your phone or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car.
  • Put it in the glove compartment (lock it, if you have to) or in a bag on the back seat.
  • Before you leave the house, record an outgoing message that tells callers you’re driving and you’ll get back to them when you’re off the road.
  • Some apps can block incoming calls and texts, or send automatic replies to people trying to call or text you.
  • Ask a passenger to take a call or respond to a text for you.
  • Silence notifications that tempt you to check your phone.

If there’s an urgent need to use your phone, you should find a place to legally park. In an emergency, you can use your phone to call 911, ensure you have pulled off the road or highway and are in a safe area to do so. If you must use your phone while driving hands free modes are permitted. For navigation a cradle mount should be used.

More than ever in 2019 people are faced with distractions by our technology. Drivers need to remember that for their safety and the safety of those around them, their focus need to be on driving.

Distracted Driving Changes in 2019
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