During the three-month public education period which began on October 26, the new law was supported by a comprehensive public education and awareness campaign which informed the public about the new rules. As of February 1, 2010, police started issuing tickets.
As of February 1, 2010, police may issue tickets and drivers can settle out of court by paying a fine of $125, plus $25 victim fine surcharge and $5 court costs, for a total of $155. Drivers who receive a summons or who contest their ticket by going to court may face a fine of up to $500.
There are no demerit points associated with an offence, and police will not be confiscating any hand-held devices used by a driver caught breaking the law.
Drivers who endanger others because of any distraction, including hand-held and hands-free devices, may also still be charged with careless driving and will automatically receive six demerit points, fines up to $2,000 and/or a jail term of six months. In some cases, your licence may be suspended for up to two years. You may even be charged with dangerous driving (a criminal offence).
In addition to legislation and enforcement, the key to success in combating all forms of driving distraction is education and awareness. For this reason, the ministry is using a variety of media and public education approaches to raise awareness about the new distracted driving law. For example, MTO is working to discourage young drivers from using cell phones and other wireless devices while driving by promoting initiatives such as the iDrive program. This program raises awareness among youth about the risks of unsafe driving behaviour.
A number of safety messages on the ministry’s COMPASS signs are on a rotation, and are displayed during ‘non peak’ times on roads across Ontario: Cell Phone Users/Drive Now – Talk Later; Safety Comes First/Drive Now – Talk Later; Please Focus On Driving/Avoid Using A Cell Phone.
The ministry has also distributed 10,000 posters and 100,000 brochures in communities, including schools, across the province to remind drivers of all ages to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road while driving.
Through local initiatives and community-based programs, the ministry’s Regional Planners are working across the province with over 150 community groups, stakeholders in road safety, public health officials and enforcement agencies, to raise awareness about distracted driving. New signs on the highway at border crossings inform drivers from other provinces and the US that hand-held devices are prohibited while driving.