Chief Justice Annemarie Bonkalo authorized the judicial decree which is set to take effect on March 18. Citing the fact that people are getting killed at the hands of drivers whose attention is taken off the road and onto tech gadgets in increasing numbers, the fine is increased as a deterrent and potential life-saving measure.
There is also a $5.00 court fee and $25 victim surcharge assessed to the driver, but those fees are included in the fine. What will it take to get tagged with the hefty fine? Having a cellphone or smartphone, laptop, or tablet computer screen visible to the driver is enough to warrant the fine. The one notable exception is for GPS navigation devices. It is curious if the same exception would apply to smartphones running GPS-enabled navigation applications. Given the screen sizes of some smartphone models, there is functionally little difference between a dedicated navigation device and a smartphone running an app to achieve the same result.
Constable Clint Stibbe of the Toronto police department approves of the increase in the fine. He states that an insufficient number of drivers are getting the message about the dangers of distracted driving. He said the problem is ongoing and many drivers simply refuse to set aside their tech gadgets while driving. He said he’s seen people hold their steering wheels in place with their knees to free up their hands for texting. He’s also seen the horrific accidents involved where people lose their lives be attributed to nothing more than distracted driving. For Liberal MPP Bas Balkissoon, the new fine doesn’t go far enough. His new bill would set a 3-point driving penalty and a $500 fine.
Distracted driving fines in Ontario jump to $280