How To Fight A Handheld Device Ticket In Ontario

With the rise of handheld device tickets in Ontario, understanding how to navigate these charges is more important than ever. The legislation under the Highway Traffic Act, Section 78.1 (1), aims to combat the escalating issue of distracted driving, which has been identified as a leading cause of accidents on the roads.


The Consequences of Conviction

A ticket for using a handheld device or cellphone while driving in Ontario is not a minor offence. The law takes these violations seriously, also meaning the penalties for being convicted can be serious as well:

  • A conviction could mean losing your license for a certain period, impacting your ability to drive.
  • Fines for these violations are designed to be punitive, serving as a deterrent against future offences. 
  • One of the most significant impacts of a conviction is on your insurance premiums. Insurers view drivers with these tickets as high risk, which can lead to dramatically increased rates for years.
  • Demerit Points: Accumulating demerit points can lead to further penalties from the Ministry of Transportation, including longer license suspensions.
  • Employment Impact: For those whose job requires driving, a conviction can lead to job loss or difficulty finding employment in driving related fields.
  • Record of Conviction: A conviction becomes part of your driving record, which can affect personal and professional opportunities.


How to Fight Your Ticket

The Argument for Reasonable Compliance

For example, being stopped at a red light and briefly checking your phone might technically violate the law, but it doesn’t necessarily equate to dangerous distracted driving. In these cases, the concept of “reasonable compliance” comes into play, where the action doesn’t significantly detract from the law’s purpose of ensuring road safety.


Seeking Expert Guidance

Successfully contesting a handheld device ticket in Ontario requires an in-depth understanding of the legislation, its objectives, and how to effectively argue your case based on the specific circumstances of your unique situation. Experienced legal representation is extremely important in what can be a complex process for formulating a strong defence strategy.


With the right approach and legal support, you can challenge your ticket correctly and effectively. If you find yourself in this situation, seeking the help of a knowledgeable legal professional is important in protecting your rights and your driving record.


Ready to Challenge Your Handheld Device Ticket?

Don’t take on this ticket alone. Our team has decades of experience in defending against handheld device tickets in Ontario, offering you the right representation you need to fight your charges. Contact us today for a free consultation.


Video Transcription:

How to fight a handheld device ticket in Ontario. This is an important question to be asking because in Ontario there seems to be a heightened level of these charges arriving in a person’s hands. The section they’re charged with under the Highway Traffic Act is Section 78. 1 Sub 1. And I think I’ll first start by telling you, that there’s a relatively new section to the Highway Traffic Act.

I’m going to guess somewhere about 10 to 15 years old and in law that’s a relatively new section. The purpose of the legislation is because of the problems that were occurring across Ontario and in fact, in North America. The danger of distracted driving was causing twice as many accidents as impaired driving.

And we all know the significance about the impaired driving campaigns. They’ve been, we’ve seen them a thousand times. So, when I tell you that the accidents and the problems that were occurring were at least twice as bad as the impaired driving, you can understand why this type of legislation exists.

And in fact, some, some loose statistics: 21 percent of fatal accidents involved distracted driving. 27 percent of accidents involving serious injury involved distracted driving or, or a handheld device. And the consequences of conviction for something like that are licensed suspensions, significant fines, and an enormously increased insurance rates.

So that’s sort of the backdrop of why that legislation exists. Now, politically that legislation has been the focus for many years now of the Provincial Offences Court and obviously the focus of enforcement agencies out there. So, there are a lot of these tickets and it’s overwhelming when a defendant is handed one of these tickets and they’re very concerned and for good reason now that you know what I’ve just said.

So it is important to realize that to defend yourself on a ticket like that, you really need to understand that that legislation is designed specifically to stop that distracted behavior. So it was initially very focused on adolescent males and females, so I’m going to say under the age of 25, and they were using their cell phones to their own detriment and to the public’s detriment by reading texts, sending texts, looking at emails, looking at videos, talking on their phone, and those types of behaviours have been controlled to a degree in Ontario because of this very rigid enforcement. But by example, you know, what that simply means is that, you know, I’ll give you an example; if you were stopped at a red light and you touched your phone. You looked at maybe a text from your daughter or your girlfriend. Technically, you shouldn’t have touched that phone. Technically, you shouldn’t have looked at it. And if an officer sees that, he can, in good standing, charge you with that particular offence.

But, if we look at the purpose of the legislation, and that would be, well we want to protect the public, we want to protect the person doing that, and anyone else using the roadway at that time, from that distraction. But if that distraction, was no more than turning up the car stereo, meaning that you looked at it at a stopped traffic light where nothing was moving and it was momentary.

Well, it’s a very difficult putt, very difficult argument for the Crown or the prosecution to allege that you were distracted. So in a situation like that, you know, we would argue, although technically it was an offence, there was what I would term reasonable compliance. And it would certainly raise the eyebrows of a judge or justice of the peace to have to convict somebody that was following the purpose of the law, but maybe not to the full extent.

So the answer is quite clearly how to fight a handheld device ticket in Ontario. You’d need someone sophisticated enough to know what the legislation is, why it is there, and how that would apply to your specific set of facts, formulating a defense which could assist you in getting out of this particular charge.

Ron Harper

Ron Harper

Ron Harper, owner of OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services, is a former Ontario Prosecutor and Licensed Paralegal with over 40 years of experience in traffic offences.

Related Videos

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Your Ticket On Time

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Your Ticket On Time

What Happens If You Don't Pay Your Ticket On Time When you receive a traffic ticket, you have 15 days to respond. If you don't, you will be convicted. After conviction, the court gives you another 15 days to pay the fine. Missing this deadline results in an...

Stunt Driving: Fines, Penalties and Consequences

Stunt Driving: Fines, Penalties and Consequences

Stunt Driving: Fines, Penalties and Consequences Here's a summary of the initial penalties you face if charged with stunt driving in Ontario: Penalty Details Vehicle Impoundment 14 days Immediate License Suspension 30 days Court Fines $2,000 to $10,000 (average $2,500...