August 26, 2014 2:27 pm

Ontario to toughen up distracted driving laws in the fall

TORONTO – The Ontario Liberals will bring back legislation this fall that would toughen penalties and add demerit points for distracted driving.

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said the province will impose three demerit points in addition to increasing the maximum fine for distracted driving to $1,000.

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“I think this is really important for our government to draw a line in the sand, so to speak, and make sure people understand that we can’t let it spiral out of control, that we do need to get a handle on it very clearly,” he said at a news conference.

The previous bill died when the June 12 election was called.

“We have to make sure that we push hard, that we introduce penalties that will serve as a deterrent, but that we also raise public awareness to make sure people do understand very clearly what the consequences could be for making the wrong decision,” Del Duca said.

READ MORE: OPP deploys unmarked cars for long weekend blitz on distracted drivers

In 2009, Ontario banned the use of handheld devices to text, email or talk while driving, except for 911 calls.

The province’s top court says it’s illegal to even hold a phone while driving.

Drivers are also forbidden from using portable video games or DVD players. Global positioning systems are allowed, as long as they’re properly secured to the dashboard.

READ MORE: Texting, dialing while driving more risky than talking: Study

Fines for distracted driving were raised in March to $280, including surcharges, from $155. But unlike other provinces, there are no demerit points attached.

With files from The Canadian Press

© Shaw Media, 2014

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