Distracted and Impaired Drivers Face Stiffer Penalties in 2019

Ontario Distracted Driving Laws 2019

The government of Ontario has now passed harsher penalties for impaired and distracted drivers—responding to advocates who have called for a crackdown in recent years. A detailed article on the new laws in effect is available here.

New Penalties for Distracted Driving

Upon their first conviction for distracted driving, motorists now face a three-day suspension of their licence, a $1,000 fine, and three demerit points on their record. Second and third convictions see fines doubled and tripled. Subsequent convictions also bring six demerit points—and will also result in seven-day and 30-day licence suspensions, respectively.

Drivers who hold graduated G1 and G2 licences could potentially lose those licences for 30 or 90 days upon their first or second convictions. A graduated licence could potentially be canceled upon a third conviction. Impaired driving convictions will also be subject to new financial penalties.

While many think only of cellphones when considering distracted driving laws, authorities cite a broader definition that includes eating behind the wheel, putting on makeup, and other actions that take someone’s attention away from the road. Each could potentially get a driver pulled over.

New Rules Regarding Impaired Driving

For those being checked for impaired driving, authorities note new laws have recently come into effect—allowing officers to request drivers submit a breath sample without any outward indication of alcohol consumption. Police say this gives officers better tools to combat drunk driving.

As we reported in an earlier blog, the new structure bases penalties on the driver’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). First offenders with a BAC of 80-119mg per 100 millilitres face a $1,000 fine. Those with a BAC of 120-159mg face a $1,500 fine. Those with a BAC of 160mg or more will face a $2,000 fine—as will any driver who refuses testing. Second and third offences also carry mandatory jail sentences of 30 and 120 days, respectively.

Hopes Rely on Enforcement

Toronto Police statistics indicate distracted driving increases the risk of a crash—and hope the new penalties will send a strong message to drivers. Authorities in Ontario hope these tougher penalties and heightened enforcement will decrease the number of distracted driving incidents overall.

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