Cell Phone Hands-free law in Ontario effective October 2009

September 11, 2009 on 8:44 am | In Consumer Protection | No Comments

In October, 2009 Bill 118 – Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act, 2009 will be implemented and enforced on the highways, streets and roads of Ontario after a public awareness program is conducted for Ontarians, concerning the new prohibition on driving while using or viewing electronic hand-held devices (this includes, cell phones, iPhones, smartphones, blackberries, iPods, MP3 players, DVD players, laptop computers, eBook readers, portable games), is conducted.

Similar rules and laws have already been passed in other Provinces. In fact, Ontario followed four (4) other Provinces in passing this legislation. Ontario follows Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Manitoba follows Ontario as the sixth Province implementing similar legislation.

The rules in Ontario for using a hand-held device attract less sanctions then Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

Starting in October, 2009:
In Ontario, if police witness you using a hand-held device (to: view,talk, listen, emailing (reading or sending or writing) or text messaging (reading or sending or writing) or observing a GPS (global positioning system) unit (not properly affixed to the dashboard) while operating a motor vehicle (you are situated behind the steering wheel of the vehicle and are operating it and have care and control of the motor vehicle) in Ontario, you will receive a ticket worth up to $500.00.

See sections 78 (1) to 78.1 (subsections 1-8 inclusive) of the Highway Traffic Act.

If the police consider your use of such a device as careless driving, you could potentially be charged with careless driving pursurant to section 130 of the Highway Traffic Act. A conviction for this offence, would mean the driver would accumulate six (6) demerit points on your driving record, face a huge fine, up to $2000.00 (and a huge increase in insurance premiums or having insurance cancelled), suspension of one’s driver’s licence and possible incarceration.
# In Newfoundland and Labrador: if you are convicted of this offence (which came into effect on April 1, 2003), you will receive a ticket and a fine in a range of $100.00 to $400.00 and will accumulate four (4) demerit points. If the defendant defaults on payment of the fine, they face possible incarceration of 2 – 14 days. See section 176.1 of the Newfoundland and Labrador Highway Traffic Act.
# Prince Edward Island prohibits (which began April 1, 2007) newly licensed drivers (Stage 1) from using cellphones (or utilizing headphones) or any hand-held electronic device while operating or having care or control of a motor vehicle. driving. See section 6 of Graduated Driver Licensing Regulations P.E.I Reg. EC225/07 + P.E.I. Reg. EC321/01 ($100.00 fine)), – Enabling Legislation- subsection 69(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, R.S.P.E.I. 1988.
# In Quebec: if you are convicted of this offence (which began on April 1, 2008), you will receive a fine of $115.00 + and will accumulate three (3) demerit points. Bill 42 (An Act to amend the Highway Safety Code and the Regulation respecting demerit points -see section 26.1) See sections 439.1 and 508.3 of the Highway Safety Code.
# In Nova Scotia: See Bill 7 (An Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Motor Vehicle Act).If you are convicted of this offence (which began on April 1, 2008) , you will be fined starting at $135.75 for a first offence, $164.50 and up to $222.00 for repeated subsequent offences (see N.S. Reg.4/2001 – 5A (1) Category A). See section 100D (1) & (2) of the Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act.
# Manitoba: introduced legislation in November that proposed fines of at least $190 for using hand-held cellphones. Bill 5 was given royal assent on June 11, 2009. see Manitoba Highway Traffic Act – s.215.1(1) to 215.1(6).
# British Columbia’s Solicitor General, Kash P. Heed, has called for public input by August 7, 2009 on possible restrictions on cellphone use and on the issue of sanctions.

Those who are exempt from this new Ontario law:

Police, Firefighters and Paramedics. Driver’s (who are not police,firefighters or paramedics) requiring emergency services, are exempt from the law if they are calling “911?.

As a driver in Ontario, you are exempt from this law if you are calling “911? as a result of an emergency or if you are pulled over safely off of the roadway or you are properly parked.

How can a driver, operating a motor vehicle in Ontario, make or accept a phone call without violating this law?

If driver’s, driving in Ontario want to initiate outgoing phone calls or accept incoming phone calls, the law provides for the use of hands-free devices (ie.-headsets, bluetooth technology, OnStar, etc.).

If you want to use your communication (that is not a hands-free device) or entertainment device, in compliance with the law, while you are behind the wheel in a motor vehicle, you must meet these conditions:
# the motor vehicle you are operating, is off the roadway or is lawfully parked on the roadway.
# the motor vehicle you are operating, is not in motion (this doesn’t include a “traffic light” or “stop sign”)
# the motor vehicle you are operating, is not impeding traffic.

This means that while operating your motor vehicle as the driver and if you do not have a headset, bluetooth technology or something similar, you must pull over and use your cell phone or i phone to initiate or accept a phone call. There was a time when driver’s had to stop and exit their motor vehicles and go to a phone booth to make a phone call.

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