What is Distracted Driving?
“Distracted Driving” refers to the act of operating a motor vehicle while engaging in activities that divert the driver’s attention away from the road. In Ontario, there is no such charge as distracted driving, but the term is used to encompass several offences, such as driving with a handheld device, texting and driving, touching a cell phone while driving, driving while holding or using an entertainment device, and many more.
Section 78 and 78.1 of the Highway Traffic Act outlines that no person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held wireless communication device or other telecommunication device that is capable of receiving or transmitting telephone communications, electronic data, e-mail or text messages.
At least some form of distracted driving accounts for 80% of all traffic collisions, 21% of which are fatal. If convicted of any kind of distracted driving offence, it will lead to significant penalties and will have lasting effects on one’s licence, driving record and insurance premiums.
What is considered Distracted Driving in Ontario?
The term distracted driving refers to a category of charges that involve engaging in prohibited activities while operating a motor vehicle.
These activities include:
- Using a hand-held electronic device: This includes talking, texting, dialling, emailing, browsing the internet, using social media, or any other form of communication using a hand-held device.
- Holding or operating a handheld device: Even if you are not actively using the device, simply holding it or manipulating its buttons or features is considered distracted driving.
- Viewing display screens: It is illegal to view display screens unrelated to driving, such as watching videos, looking at images, or scrolling through social media feeds while operating a vehicle.
- Using electronic entertainment devices: Operating in-vehicle entertainment systems, including DVD players or portable video game consoles, that are visible to the driver is prohibited.
There are several exceptions in which you may have a defence to these charges. If you have been charged with a distracted driving ticket in Ontario, reach out to us and we would be happy to discuss your specific circumstances. We have decades of combined experience defending these charges in court.