Distracted Driving: New Laws Mean Higher Fines
Forget speeding; that’s so last post. The topic du jour that’s all the rage? Distracted driving. Don’t think you’re safe just because you’re cruising along within the speed limit. Below are some examples of driving distracted that could place you on the Ministry of Transport’s Most Wanted List (or, you know, in a database with hundreds of thousands of other names-you get the point).
Under the new law, when passing cyclists, no matter how excruciatingly slow they’re going, drivers must leave at least one metre. Otherwise, you face a $110 fine and two demerit points; $180 if you violate the law within a community safety zone.
‘Improper Lighting on Bikes’
Don’t think you’re off the hook, cyclists. Bad lighting isn’t just reserved for amateur student films. Now, when it’s a half-hour after sunset or a half-hour before sunrise, if you don’t have a white or amber light flashing up-front, and a rear-end red/reflecting light on the back, then you now could be fined $110— that’s quite a jump from the previous $20 slap on the wrist.
Yeah, bicyclists are kind of annoying to share the road with (unless you’re the one on the bicycle, in which case aren’t cars just so annoying to share the road with?). You’re already late for work, and you’d love to just casually pass them, pull over into park, and “accidentally” open your door into their smug face.
Dooring a cyclist will set you back 3 points and $365.
As it stands, since Bill 31: the Making Ontario Roads Safer Act gained traction in September 2017, dooring a cyclist will set you back 3 points and $365. That’s a dollar a day for a whole year. You could line the pockets of a charity’s CEO with that. For comparison’s sake, prior to this, it was $60 and no points. Putting people’s safety first sure is expensive.
Poor Antman, his 40s seem rough. That driver is definitely smoking something; or he’s an asshole. Or both.
What about your handy bluetooth that makes you feel like you’re driving around in a Bond movie? Don’t worry, the Ontario Ministry of Transport says you can keep that, so long as the only actions you’re performing are to turn it on and off while driving. It also has to be securely mounted, and that goes for your GPS as well.
According to Toronto city news, now that the law has officially been passed, the fines for distracted driving have also officially increased. From a maximum of $1,000 increased to $2,000 on the second conviction, and then $3,000 for third and (hopefully not) anymore. Multiple offences will also knock 6 demerit points off of your record.
Other factors include the type of license you hold and how many years of driving experience you have.
Classes A to G
- a fine of $490, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
- a fine of up to $1,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
- three demerit points
Baby G1, G2, M1 and M2 still face the same penalties as above. The good news is that there are no demerit points. Instead, you’ll receive the following depending on prior offences:
- 1st conviction: 30-day licence suspension
- 2nd conviction: 90-day licence suspension
- 3rd conviction: cancellation of your licence and removal from the Graduated Licensing System (GLS)
Some pretty tough punishments, I’d say. And that hasn’t even accounted for endangering other people and drivers as a result of the distraction. You may face charges of careless driving if that happens, the penalties for which are detailed here, or even dangerous driving.
No More Warnings
Another thing to be aware of is that now your friendly neighbourhood cops have the authority to set fines and penalties on the spot. This means they can pull you over and issue a fine right away. It doesn’t even matter if you were at a full stop. As long they see you driving distracted, you could be seeing your insurance skyrocket. Of course, some situations are more serious than others; turning the radio up won’t land you in jail. But driving while texting or driving while tired (which can be just as bad as driving drunk) can result in a suspension of license and up to $3000 in fines.
There are two cases where you can use whatever device your heart desires. 1) Calling 9-1-1 and 2) being lawfully parked and pulled over without impeding oncoming traffic.
So, the key takeaway is next time you think about picking up that call, manually rerouting the GPS, or playing your trumpet with the sheet music taped to the steering wheel (yes, that actually happened), think twice. Your friendly neighbourhood cop may not be so friendly this time.