There’s new distracted driving laws that will be enforced as of January 1 2019 as a part of Bill 174 (Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Safety Statute Law Amendment Act). Those caught distracted driving will face much harsher punishments than previous years – from skyrocketing fines, jacked-up demerit fines and licence suspensions are all coming soon for those convicted of distracted driving. Ontario is now – and officially – the worst place to get busted for texting and driving.

Where do the Punishments start?

Motorists caught talking, texting, dialing or emailing using a handheld device like a cell phone or entertainment device will be fined up to $1,000.00 and receive a three-day license suspension and three demerit points.

What happens to repeat offenders?

The penalties will get harsher for those caught the second time around. Offenders will face an automatic 7-day suspension, 6 demerit points, and a $2000 fine.

Third time around? It gets much worse for those who don’t learn their lesson the first two times.  If you’re caught distracted driving three times or more, you will face a 30-day suspension, a sky-rocketing $3000 fine and another 6 demerit points – making Ontario the province with the strictest penalties for distracted driving.

What about penalties for young driver?

For young drivers the penalties are a bit different. If you hold a G1, M1, G2 or M2,  a distracted driving conviction will receive the same escalating fines, but instead of demerit points, young drivers will face a 30 day suspension for the 1st conviction, a 90 day suspension for the 2nd conviction, and the complete cancellation of your licence and removal from the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) for conviction number 3.

What happens when you gain demerit points?

In Ontario, motorists don’t technically have or lose demerit points on their driving record if they’re convicted of an offence. Drivers actually start with zero demerit points and actually gain demerit points if they are convicted of breaking certain traffic laws.

You can gain up to 15 demerit points in Ontario before you get your licence suspended – however – demerit points for fully licenced (G Class Drivers) drivers are different than for young drivers.

For regular G drivers, if you accumulate anywhere from 2 to 8 demerit points the Ministry will send you a warning. Drivers that accumulate anywhere from 9 to 14 points could have their licence suspended.

What if you lose 15 or more demerit points? Drivers in Ontario will be required to surrender their licence for an automatic 30 days suspension. The failure to surrender a licence can result in a 2 year suspension. After your licence is surrendered there is a possibility that you will need to take either a vision, written, and road test again to get your licence back. If you pass testing, your license will be reinstated and the demerit points on your record will be reduced to 7. Demerit points remain in your driving record with the Ministry for 2 years, at which point they are removed.

For young drivers, accumulating 2 to 5 points will result in a letter of warning by the ministry of transportation. If you accumulate 6 to 8 points, your licence can be suspended and you may need to attend an interview with the Ministry. If you accumulate 9 or more points, you will have to surrender your driver’s licence for 60 days and follow the same steps as above to get it back, at which point your demerit points will be reduced to 4. Demerit points remain in your driving record with the Ministry for 2 years, at which point they are removed.

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