Distracted Driving – Cell Phone Tickets

Driver must not hold or operate a cellular phone or other electronic device while operating a motor vehicle.

Distracted Driving – Highway Traffic Act s.78.1

Distracted Driving | Cell Phone TicketsDistracted driving and using a cell phone while driving is a strict law in Ontario.

The penalty includes fines, licence suspensions, demerit points and increased insurance rates.

Drivers may not hold a cell phone or communication device while sitting in the drivers seat of a motor vehicle on the roadway

Devices Included

Communication devices include:

  • cell phones
  • dvd players
  • GPS Devices

Using the cellphone or communication device includes:

  • holding in your hand, in any manner
  • regardless of if the driver is
    • actually using the phone or not

Exemptions

While in a motor vehicle drivers may only use a mobile communication device:

  • calling 911 in an emergency
  • when parked legally off roadway

You can use:

  • a mounted device e.g. phone, GPS
    • as long as it is securely attached to the vehicle
    • while not being held in the drivers hands

If convicted, the penalty depends on the kind of drivers licence held by the driver.

Related Charges: Careless Driving,

Fine for Distracted Driving

The fine for a first conviction for distracted driving is $615.00.

Where a police officer issues a summons to appear in court the penalty can be increased to:

  • first conviction $1,000
  • second conviction $2,000
  • third conviction $3,000

Insurance Implications

Any conviction for distracted driving or using a cellphone can affect insurance rates.

The insurance will be affect because:

  • a conviction is registered on the driving abstract
  • a licence suspension is registered on the driving abstract

The conviction for distracted driving results in 2 lines being placed upon the driving record.

This in effect creates 2 insurance issues for the driver which will affect rates for 3 years.

Driving convictions and license suspension stay on driving records for 3 years.

Demerit points do not affect insurance rates.

Drivers Abstracts/Records

Driving abstracts are available to anyone who has the drivers licence number for a fee payable to the Ministry of Transportation.

Therefore the way the insurance company will finds out about the ticket is:

  • The insurance company contacts
  • the driver calls and
    • tells the insurance company that they received a ticket

Where a driver is convicted of speeding the conviction is put on the driving record for 3 years.

Summons to Appear in Court

When a police officer issues a summons to appear, the driver or their legal representative must appear before the court on the date specified on the summons.

If the driver or their legal representative does not appear, the judge may issue a warrant for the drivers arrest.

What is a Victim Fine Surcharge?

The provincial government adds a victim fine surcharge (VFS) like a tax to every non-parking fine imposed under the Provincial Offences Act.

These funds are deposited into a special fund to help victims of crime.

  • The amount of the VFS is usually 20 per cent of the imposed fine.
    • For example, a $600 fine would result in a $120 surcharge.
    • Fines over $1,000 carry a surcharge of 25 per cent.

Where a police officer issues a traffic ticket for more than 49km/h the officer must give the driver a summons to appear in court.

Where a judge issues a fine for speeding 50km/h or more, the fine is $12 per kilometre.

Demerit Points

Distracted driving and cell phone tickets have 3 demerit points.

Licence Suspensions

A conviction for distracted driving will result in a licence suspension for the following licence classes:

Class A, B, C, D, E, F, G and/or M licence

First conviction:

Second conviction

Third and any further conviction(s)

Novice drivers

Class G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence are suspended for the following upon conviction: face the same fines as drivers with A to G licences.

But will not receive any demerit points.

  • 30-day licence suspension for a first conviction
  • 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

Demerits Novice Drivers

Class G1 and Class G2 drivers are suspended for 30 days for violating the demerit point restrictions for novice drivers

Any driver maybe suspended where any fine goes into default.  Where the licence is suspended for an unpaid fine, the licence will be suspended until the payment is made to the court.

The accumulation of demerit points can result in a licence suspension.

Legal Definition

Hand-held devices prohibited – Highway Traffic Act section 78.1

Wireless communication devices

78.1 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held wireless communication device or other prescribed device that is capable of receiving or transmitting telephone communications, electronic data, mail or text messages.

Entertainment devices

(2) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held electronic entertainment device or other prescribed device the primary use of which is unrelated to the safe operation of the motor vehicle.

Hands-free mode allowed

(3) Despite subsections (1) and (2), a person may drive a motor vehicle on a highway while using a device described in those subsections in hands-free mode.

Exceptions

(4) Subsection (1) does not apply to,

(a) the driver of an ambulance, fire department vehicle or police department vehicle;

(b) any other prescribed person or class of persons;

(c) a person holding or using a device prescribed for the purpose of this subsection; or

(d) a person engaged in a prescribed activity or in prescribed conditions or circumstances.

Same
(5) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of the use of a device to contact ambulance, police or fire department emergency services.

Same
(6) Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply if all of the following conditions are met:

1. The motor vehicle is off the roadway or is lawfully parked on the roadway.

2. The motor vehicle is not in motion.

3. The motor vehicle is not impeding traffic.

Penalty

(6.1) Every person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable,

(a) for a first offence, to a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000;

(b) for a first subsequent offence, to a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $2,000; and

(c) for a second subsequent or an additional subsequent offence, to a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $3,000.

Same

(6.2) If a person is convicted of an offence under this section, the Registrar shall suspend his or her driver’s licence,

(a) for a first offence, for three days;

(b) for a first subsequent offence, for seven days; and

(c) for a second subsequent or an additional subsequent offence, for 30 days.

Same

(6.3) An offence under this section committed more than five years after a previous conviction for an offence under this section is not a subsequent offence for the purposes of subsection (6.1) or (6.2).

Regulations

(7) The Minister may make regulations,

(a) prescribing devices for the purpose of subsections (1) and (2);

(b) prescribing persons, classes of persons, devices, activities, conditions and circumstances for the purpose of subsection (4).
Definition

(8) In this section,

“motor vehicle” includes a street car, motorized snow vehicle, farm tractor, self-propelled implement of husbandry and road-building machine.


Case Law

R. v. Dagelman, 2018 ONCJ 184 (CanLII)
2018-03-15 | 8 pages
driving — stopped at a red light — vehicle — cell phone — highway
[…] [25] Similarly, in the present case, read in light of the important statutory purpose of minimizing distracted driving, in my view the words “drive on a highway” under s. 78.1(1) of the HTA must be interpreted as requiring the driver to not hold a communication device “from the time he or she puts the vehicle in motion on […] In my view, this is precisely the purpose and intent of s.78.1 of the HTA , to curb distracted driving. […] Clearly, the intention of the Legislature that enacted s.78.1 of the HTA was to curb distracted driving. […]

 


R. v. Unsworth, 2015 ONCJ 9 (CanLII)
2015-01-09 | 8 pages
sentence — hand-held device charge — careless driving charge — phone — using a hand-held
[…] (i) On December 17, 2012, at Guelph Street and Sinclair Avenue in the Town of Halton Hills, did commit the offence of careless driving, contrary to section 130 of the Highway Traffic Act . […] (ii) On the same date and place did commit the offence of driving a motor vehicle while using a hand-held communication device, contrary to section 78.1(1) of the Highway Traffic Act . […] Their statistics ay 78 people died in distracted driving-related collisions in 2013, compared with 57 impaired driving deaths and 44 speed-related deaths.” […]

 


R. v. Peuker, 2016 ONCJ 864 (CanLII)
2016-09-13 | 20 pages
hand-held communication device — offence — cell phone — absolute liability — vehicle
[…] [45] Indeed, Her Worship Opalinski in her decision in R. v. Grech-Vennare referred to the Honourable Jim Bradley’s comments (the Minister of Transportation) at paragraph 26 of her decision when Bill 118 countering distracted driving and promoting Green Transportation Act of 2009 was introduced in Parliament and I quote at […] Quite recently, articles in the media and opinion pieces have drawn even more tension to the incidents of distracted driving causing death as having overtaken the number of fatalities emanating from impaired driving offences. […] [64] Thus the purpose and intent of the legislation was to stop people from being distracted when driving by talking or texting when they are driving. […]