New Driving Laws in Toronto - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers
  • Tuesday, 23 March 2021

New Driving Laws in Toronto

People are on the go more and more these days. Because of this, it’s understandable to struggle to keep the latest traffic laws straight in your head. 

The City of Toronto is urging drivers to drive slowly, safely, and to obey the rules of the road. The city’s healthcare system is already being pushed to the limit because of the pandemic, and they don’t want any additional issues from drivers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a drastic decrease in traffic volume. That being said, law enforcement is still seeing an 35% increase in speeding tickets and an almost 200% increase in stunt driving. 

As businesses begin to open up and more drivers return to the roads, it’ll be critical to get this situation under control as swiftly as possible. In fact, officials say the biggest danger to Canadian drivers these days is other distracted drivers.

Distracted Driving Definition

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has been collecting data on distracted driving since 1964. These statistics have influenced new driving laws in Toronto

Distracted driving refers to when a driver’s attention is drawn away from the road towards something else, causing an increased likelihood of accident or injury.

There are many ways a driver can be distracted, according to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators. They define it as: “The diversion of attention from driving, as a result of the driver focusing on a non-driving object, activity, event, or person.”

Anytime a driver looks away, even if only for a few seconds, they lose view of about 50% of the road. Even if their eyes are still on the road, distractions can cause lapses in reaction time.

Big contributors to distractions on the road are mobile devices and related technology. Increasingly, the Canadian government has even seen drivers utilizing social media while behind the wheel.

Toronto’s New Distracted Driving Law

Toronto and its new driving laws are dedicated to returning a complete level of focus to the road. Violators of a new Distracted Driving Law will be subject to increasingly large fines and the threat of a suspended license.

Police officers will also have the right to request a breath sample from any lawfully stopped civilians. This differs from past iterations of the law, where reasonable suspicion of intoxication was required.

The law has taken to these measures to combat impaired driving. In 2018, the Toronto police reported over 1,400 impaired driving charges across the Greater Toronto Area.

Distracted Driving Offenses in Toronto

Distracted driving-related deaths have doubled since 2000, unsurprisingly coinciding with the drastic improvements in mobile technology around that time. Many people still don’t realize that it’s illegal to use a cellphone or other mobile device while behind the wheel at any time — including at stoplights.

Some distracted driving offenses include messaging, reading, watching videos, smoking/vaping, self-grooming, eating, drinking, programming a GPS, and talking on a handheld device.

More collisions happen due to distracted driving. If you or your car have been hit due to a distracted driver in Toronto, get in touch with Diamond & Diamond Law personal injury lawyers to help you with your situation.

Distracted Driving Penalties

Anyone caught in violation of these new Toronto driving laws will be subject to a fine of anywhere from $615 to $3,000. Additionally, violators will receive three to six demerit points on their licenses.

For the first three offenses, the charge will be $615 per offense. However, if someone disputes the ticket and loses, the fine will increase to $1,000 for the first offense, $2,000 for the second, and $3,000 for the third.

Second- and third-time offenders will also receive six demerit points and a temporary license suspension. Second-time offenders will have their license suspended for seven days, while third-time violators will be without their license for 30 days.

These consequences may be extended for novice drivers. Drivers will legally be able to continue using GPS as long as it’s built into the vehicle’s dashboard. Likewise, hands-free devices are allowed if you’re using an earpiece or Bluetooth system.

How to Avoid Distracted Driving Penalties

How to Avoid Distracted Driving PenaltiesYou can avoid being in violation of these new driving laws in Toronto by pre-planning and thinking things through. 

We understand how easy it is to feel it necessary to check your phone after every notification. Checking your phone in these situations can be a matter of life or death, so put your phone on silent mode before starting your car.

You can also download apps that specifically block calls. In the event that you absolutely need to check a notification, make sure you’ve pulled over and completely stopped the vehicle first.

If you do happen to get into an accident due to distracted driving, make sure you talk with the other driver. Get their information as per standard practice, and also make sure they’re okay. Making the roads a safer place is a difficult challenge, but one that can be accomplished when tackled together.

pro tip icon

Pro Tip

“Know your limits and understand what you are comfortable doing before you take the steering wheel.”

FAQs about New Driving Laws in Toronto

What Does Not Constitute Distracted Driving?

The use of technology will not constitute distracted driving under certain conditions. This includes the use of GPS or geolocating devices; these will need to be pre-programmed for your destination and built into the dashboard. Also, you can use traditionally hands-free devices like Bluetooth. As long as you’re not holding the device in your hands and can use an earpiece or voice-activated dialling, it won’t be considered illegal.

Are There Any Exemptions in Ontario’s Distracted Driving Law?

Exemptions to this distracted driving law include the need to dial 9-1-1. Additionally, drivers will be clear to use their devices when fully parked.

Is it Okay if I Drive with my Headphones On?

You can legally drive in Toronto with your headphones on as long as you don’t “manipulate” them. That means you can’t be actively touching or performing actions with them. However, if you’re using them to aid in hands-free calling, that would be within the bounds of the law.

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