New distracted driving laws come into effect on New Year’s Day
Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Monday, December 31, 2018 4:18PM EST
Toronto police say there will be no grace period for distracted drivers after Ontario’s new driving rules go into effect on Jan. 1.
The new rules are meant to encourage drivers to shift their focus on to the road by increasing fines and threatening license suspensions.
Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson told CTV News Toronto that the crackdown on distracted drivers is the result of years of trying to educate the public on the dangers of operating a vehicle while distracted, with little result.
“We still have quite a number of collisions on the road. More and more people are dying every year in avoidable collisions. A lot of that is due to distracted driving,” Hopkinson said. “We’ve stated the numbers before – you are four times more likely to become involved in a collision if you are distracted.”
Under the new rules, a driver convicted of distracted driving for the first time will receive a fine of up to $1,000, three demerit points and a three-day license suspension.
Those convicted for a second time will be fined up to $2,000, receive three demerit points and a seven-day license suspension.
For a third conviction and any further convictions afterward, drivers will have their license suspended for 30 days. They will also receive three demerit points and a fine of up to $3,000.
Novice drivers who hold a G1 or G2 will face the same fines as those with full licenses, but instead of demerit points, they will receive a longer license suspension. A first conviction will result in a 30-day license suspension and a second conviction will result in a 90-day license suspension.
After that, any further distracted driving convictions will result in the cancellation of their driver’s license.
The rule changes follow a national increase in penalties for impaired driving, which went into effect on Dec. 18.
Under the new legislation, police officers now have the right to ask any driver who is lawfully stopped to provide a breath sample. Previous legislation required officers have a reasonable suspicion that a driver had been drinking.
First time offenders caught driving with a blood alcohol content level of between 80 and 119 milligrams will be fined $1,000. If a driver has a blood alcohol level of 160 milligrams of more, they can be fined up to $2,000.
Any further offences will carry mandatory jail sentences.
According to Toronto police, more than 1,400 impaired driving charges have been laid in the GTA throughout 2018.
More than 7,300 impaired driving charges were laid by Ontario Provincial Police between January and November 2018.