Cell Phone Tickets | Distracted Driving

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.

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Penalties for Driving with a cell phone or distracted driving in Ontario

Every person who is convicted of distracted driving or a cellphone charge is liable to:

Penalty for A-Z drivers 1st conviction 2nd conviction 3rd +conviction
Demerit points 3 6 6
Fine $500-$1000 $500-$2000 $500-3000
Mandatory licence suspension 3 days licence suspension 7 days licence suspension 30 days licence suspension
CVOR points 3 3 3

Novice drivers (G1,G2,M1,M2,) upon conviction face the following penalties:

Penalty for (G1,G2,M1,M2) drivers 1st conviction 2nd conviction 3rd +conviction
Demerit points 0 0 0
Fine $500-$1000 $500-$2000 $500-300
Mandatory licence suspension 30 days licence suspension 90 days licence suspension licence cancellation

Impact on driving record

Although not a criminal offence, the use of a handheld communication device is seen as a very serious charge. Because of the statistics and studies surrounding accidents related to the use of hand-held communication devices and distracted driving, your insurance company will view a conviction under this section as a very serious offence. It is prudent to have the charge withdrawn or at least reduced to maintain the integrity of your driving record, to save or reduce the demerit points and to eliminate the mandatory suspension.

How we can help you fight distracted driving charges

Traffic Paralegal Services has decades of combined experience in fighting handheld charges in all their different forms throughout Ontario.

We have effectively protected our clients’ rights and driver’s records in court and our objectives are always to:

  • Win your case
  • Reduce the charges to a lesser degree
  • Avoid any driving suspensions; and,
  • Avoid or minimize any increases to your insurance

We charge a set fee for handheld device offences which will include all work on your file, from start to finish with no additional or hidden fees. The court process can be quite confusing and intimidating. On your trial date, our experienced paralegals will advocate on your behalf, to get you the best possible outcome.

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Will I lose demerit points?

Yes. On the first conviction, you will lose 3 demerit points. For any subsequent conviction of the same charge, you will lose 6 points.

How long will the conviction be on my record?

Forever. Your driving record will follow you for your driving lifetime. However, the insurance companies can only go back three years on your driving record. It’s key to avoid having this particular charge appear on your record along with the licence suspension that comes with it.

Will the cellphone charge affect my insurance?

Yes. Insurance companies view this as a major conviction and your insurance premiums will increase substantially.

Should I just pay the fine for the distracted driving ticket?

You can pay the fine if you wish. But once the fine is paid a conviction is registered and the charge will appear on your driving record, as well as the three-day licence suspension, increasing your insurance premiums even more. Our goal is to have the charge withdrawn completely, or at the very least reduced to a lesser charge.

Why can’t I just go to court myself?

You can. However, the court process can be very complex. Our paralegals have decades of combined experience and knowledge to be able to put you in the best position to succeed. You only get one shot at a trial and it is crucial that you have the best representation.