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U Text, U Pay: Big Penalties for Distracted Driving in Ontario

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) is an American governmental agency with a mandate to achieve high standards of excellence in motor vehicle and highway safety. 

Their phone-free driving campaign – U Drive. U Text. U Pay. – could just as well be the slogan for distracted driving enforcement in Ontario.

In 2019, to curb distracted driving, the provincial government increased penalties across the board for those convicted of distracted driving.  And if you drive and text, you pay. Big time. 

A summary of maximum penalties for distracted driving is below:

  • First Conviction: $1,000 fine, three demerit points and a 3-day suspension
  • Second Conviction: $2,000 fine, six demerit points and a 7-day suspension
  • Third Conviction: $3,000 fine, six demerit points and a 30-day suspension

In addition to texting and driving, it is also considered distracted driving to use a tablet, video screen or a GPS device (manually) while driving.  And for the purposes of distracted driving laws, you are “driving” even when your vehicle is stopped at a stop sign or a red light.

As personal injury lawyers in eastern Ontario, we have seen a growing number of victims of distracted driving over the last decade.  And the trend does not seem to be slowing.

Hopefully, with improved enforcement measures in Ontario and increased awareness of the risks of distracted driving, that trend will start to reverse.

To do your part, avoid the temptation to text and drive by keeping your phone in your purse, glove compartment or a closed console and, as our neighbours to the south at the NHTSA say, #justdrive

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