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Upcoming Changes To Cell Phone Charges In Ontario

Posted: February 12, 2018
By: Ron Harper

Penalties in Ontario for driving while using a cell phone have been steadily increasing.  Soon, the law related to these charges will be changing to include significantly greater penalties.  Let's take a look at what Ontarians will soon be facing if charged...

Driving while using a cellphone is charged under section 78.1 of the Highway Traffic Act under the wording, "Drive While Using a Handheld Communication Device."  Originally these offences carried no demerit points but were later amended to carry 3 demerit points.  Currently the penalty section for this section reads:

(6.1) Every person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $300 and not more than $1,000. 2015, c. 14, s. 23.

However, the pending change to this section of law fill substitute the following penalty section:

(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. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 16.

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.  2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 16.

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). 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 16.

The main points to be aware of are as follows:

Increased Fine

Whereas the current base fine upon conviction could range between $300.00 and $1,000.00 (plus the victim fine surcharge and $5.00 court cost), fines will now be increased as follows

  • First offence - $500.00 to $1,000.00
  • First subsequent offence - $500.00 to $2,000.00
  • Third or later offence - $500.00 to $3,000.00

While the court does not necessarily have to issue a higher than $500 fine, there is now discretion for the court to issue incrementally higher fines upon each subsequent offence.  A worst-case scenario for a third or later conviction would a total payable fine of $4,500.00.

Suspension of Driver's Licence

Currently a conviction under this section of the Highway Traffic Act would not incur a suspension of driver's licence unless you were  classified as a novice driver (i.e.  holding a G1 or G2 licence) due to escalated sanctions penalties.  Under the new penalty section, a conviction will result in a mandatory suspension of driver's licence as follows:

  • First offence - a 3 day suspension of driver's licence
  • First subsequent offence - a 7 day suspension of driver's licence
  • Third or later offence - a 30 day suspension of driver's licence

Drive with Handheld Communication Device offences already carry significant penalties and will soon include the increased penalties that are pending.  If you are stopped and charged by the police it is important to know your rights and options in order to make an informed decision on how to best protect your interests.  Our staff provide a no-cost, no-obligation review of matters via our toll-free number 1-844-647-6869, by email at info@otdlegal.ca, or by text via 226-240-2480.

Posted under Demerit Points, Distracted Driving, Traffic Ticket Defence