January 1st new fines for distracted driving come into play.
While a lot of people are becoming very aware of the penalties for using a mobile device in your car, that morning muffin could net you the same fines and suspensions starting Tuesday.
It’s part of the new legislation that came in with the legalization of marijuana.
OPP Seargent Jason Folz says eating while driving is not as big an issue in terms of numbers as mobile phone use, if your driving is being inhibited by the act of eating, you can receive a $1,000 fine and possible three-day license suspension along with three demerit points for a first conviction.
“(To date it hasn’t been) an issue,” says Folz. “But if your driving is severely affected while you are eating or drinking coffee then you could be facing a charge of careless driving.”
If you are caught a second time after being fined for distracted driving previously the fine climbs to $2000, a seven-day license suspension and six demerit points.
Get caught again after two convictions the suspension ramps up to one month and a $3,000 fine.
Folz says he knows a lot of the public think they are not part of the distracted driving problem because they are only looking at their phone for a moment at a stop light. The lack of being aware of what is happening at an intersection is the big problem.
“If you pull up to any traffic light anywhere in this province and look over at the car next to you most of the time their attention is down in their lap,” Folz asserts. “If people are thinking they are not doing it I can tell you it is going on at every traffic light in this province.”
He says he has even seen a driver miss a whole light cycle as they gaze at their phone.
“I’ve seen people sit through green lights, I’ve seen people jet into intersections unaware, not looking for cross-traffic,” says Folz.
He warns police will be on the lookout for people breaking these laws.
- Simply holding an electronic device in your hands (hand-held communication during driving is against the law)
- Using a cellular phone to talk, text, check maps or switch playlists
- Eating (there may not be a licence suspension, but the police warn you could be fined or given six demerits depending on the food)
- Reading books or documents
- Typing a destination into the GPS
- Hands-free devices (e.g. Bluetooth), but only to turn it on and off
- Mounted devices, as long as they are secured properly