Ontario Tightens Penalties for Distracted Driving

Ontario has stiffened fines and penalties for distracted driving, effective Jan. 1, making them among the toughest in Canada.

First-time offenders face a three-day license suspension, three demerit points and a fine of at least C$615 ($452). A second conviction raises the penalties to a seven-day loss of license, six points and a fine as great as C$2,000 ($1,500).

Each subsequent conviction carries a 30-day license suspension, a possible C$3,000 ($2,200) fine and six demerit points.

The Canadian Automobile Assn. says its research indicates that one-third of drivers in Ontario blame their distracted driving on the use of mobile devices. The province banned the use of handheld mobile devices by drivers nearly a decade ago and began three years ago to levy demerit points for convictions.