New Year, New Rules: Are You Guilty of These Distracted Driving Offences Without Even Knowing?
Distracted drivers need to be wary. Offences just became a whole lot tougher starting January 1, 2019. And they aren’t just limited to texting and making calls anymore.
The Ontario Government has recently posted a list of actions that amount to distracted driving. They now run the gamut from everything from holding an electronic device to munching on your favourite snack while driving – things that many people do every day!
If you or your loved one is charged with a distracted driving offense, it is advisable to seek legal counsel and contact a dangerous driving lawyer in Toronto without delay. John Erickson is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has been successfully defended individuals charged with driving-related offences for more than 20 years. Rest assured of affordable service and timely legal aid when you are faced with a distracted driving charge.
Why This Sudden Change in Driving Laws?
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that these changes in the law were not sudden and has been several years in the making.
In 2017, the Ontario government passed Bill 174 which allowed for the sale of cannabis for recreational use in the province beginning in October 2018. That bill also changed the laws relating to distracted driving. However, they weren’t as strongly enforced as they will be in 2019.
Another catalyst for stricter enforcement is that distracted driving has remained as rampant as ever despite numerous awareness campaigns, crackdowns, fine increases, and other measures. Recent statistics reveal that:
Deaths due to on-road collisions have doubled since the early 2000s.
Every half hour, one person is injured as a result of a distracted driving crash.
Drivers occupied with their phones and other such devices are four times as likely to cause or be involved in collisions.
2019 Distracted Driving Offenses and Their Punishments – Updated List
The best way to safeguard your reputation from a conviction is to stay updated with the on-road rules. Here’s what constitutes a distracted driving charge in 2019:
- Holding a device (such as a cellular phone) in their hands whether to dial, email, text, talk, check maps, change playlists, etc.
- Reading texts, documents, books, e-readers
- Typing anything into the infotainment system or GPS
These prohibitions are applicable any time your engine is in gear. In other words, using your cellphone at a red light is still grounds for a penalty. Any driver who is caught doing the above will be subject to fines, a suspended license, and demerit points.
Barring the above, there are a couple of vague areas as well that may land you in hot water. For instance, some drivers have even been convicted of a distracted driving offence when wearing earphones or glancing at a smartwatch – in essence, anything that takes their attention away from the road.
And with the new year, comes new penalties. In Ontario, drivers who are convicted of a distracted driving offense will face penalties based on the number of prior convictions:
- First Offence: Suspension – 3 days; Fine – $1,000
- Second Offence: Suspension – 7 days; Fine – $2,000
- Third Offence: Suspension – 30 days; Fine – $3, 000; Demerit Points – 6
Know Your Rights – What Can’t the Police Do?
Be that as it may, police will not be permitted to confiscate a driver’s license at the roadside itself. Instead, the procedure requires them to gain a judge’s approval before carrying out any suspensions.
What happens when you’re convicted? You will stand to lose your license anywhere between three to thirty days either by guilty plea or trial.
What Devices Can Safely Be Used to Avoid a Distracted Driving Charge?
Don’t despair. The law recognizes that you need to interact with certain devices when operating a vehicle to get to your destination, communicate with your friends or if you want to listen to music. The following activities are not prohibited:
- Communicating with a hands-free device like Bluetooth – but only to switch it on or off
- Interacting with mounted devices through voice control without taking your eyes off the road
Facing a Distracted Driving Offence?
Get Yourself Represented by a Reliable and Trusted Criminal Defence Lawyer.
When your reputation is at stake, don’t take a gamble. Get John Erickson on your case. By doing so, you can access affordable services, indomitable experience in the field and a 20-year proven track record for success. Contact us for more information.