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What a Distracted Driving Ticket in Canada will Cost You

Distracted driving is the cause of up to 30 per cent of car crashes on the road. As a result, the majority of Canada has implemented laws banning this terrible habit. Here’s how they differ across Canada.

Sponsored by the Alberta Motor Association  

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In Alberta, distracted driving was such a public concern that legislation was put in place to curb the problem. The Distracted Driving Legislation restricts everything from using your phone to reading to engaging in personal hygiene. So be sure to put the hairbrush down when you get in the car.

Demerit Points: none
Fine: $172

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British Columbia

When the B.C. government learned that 81 people were killed in the province in 2012 by distracted driving, compared to 55 by impaired driving, they decided to crack down. Making calls on a cell, and texting or emailing while at the wheel is against the law.

Demerit Points: 3
Fine: $167

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On August 1, 2013, the Manitoba government decided to follow the lead of other provinces and ban the use of cell phones while driving. In April alone, 1,500 drivers in Winnipeg were ticketed for distracted driving.

Demerit Points: 2
Fine: $200

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New Brunswick

Using a cell phone or texting is illegal while driving. You’re allowed to refer to your GPS, MP3 player and other entertainment devices, but it’s prohibited to fiddle with them while you’re on the road. In other words, if it’s not built in to your vehicle, using a display screen is considered distracted driving.

Demerit Points: 3
Fine: $172.50

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Newfoundland and Labrador

Making calls and texting on your cell phone is illegal in Newfoundland and Labrador, as is programming your GPS. The province enforced this law in October 2010. Between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, 1018 people were convicted of distracted driving.

Demerit Points: 4
Fine: $100- $400

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Northwest Territories

The use of all handheld devices, including MP3 players, tablets, e-readers, and GPS systems, is illegal while driving in the Northwest Territories. Making calls and sending or receiving texts falls under this law too.

Demerit Points: 3
Fine: $100

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Nova Scotia

Distracted driving is a serious problem in Nova Scotia. Thirty-three percent of fatal crashes in Halifax were related to the offence, compared to 26 per cent for impaired driving. Since the legislation was passed in 2008, there have been 7500 fines issued in Halifax alone. Currently, distracted driving is considered using a cell phone to talk or text while behind the wheel. (Emergency calls to 911 are permitted.) However, lawmakers are hoping to eventually expand the definition in its Motor Vehicle Act, to include things like driving with a pet on your lap.

Demerit Points: none
Fine: $164 for first time offence, $233 for a second offence and $337 for a third offence.

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Nunavut is the only part of Canada that doesn’t have legislation or laws regarding distracted driving, though lawmakers are hoping to change that eventually.

Demerit Points: none
Fine: none

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Prince Edward Island

For such a small province, PEI has one of the bigger penalties for distracted driving. Since January 2010, it’s been illegal to use hand-held, wireless and electronic devices while driving on the Island. Hand-free options, like speakerphone or an earpiece, are allowed.

Demerit Points: 3
Fine: $250-$400

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In March of this year, Ontario upped its distracted driving fines from $60 – $500 to a range of $300 – $1,000 – making it one of the most expensive place in Canada to be fined for distracted driving. Under the Keeping Ontario’s Roads Safe Act, distracted driving is considered to be talking, texting, typing, dialing or emailing using a cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment gadgets. It’s also illegal to watch screens like laptop or DVD players, while on the roads.

Demerit: none
Fine: $300 to $1000

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When Quebec introduced the idea of banning hand held cell phones on the roads in 2007, it found 95 per cent of people felt cell phone use should be regulated and 46 per cent supported a total ban. In April 2008, the Highway Safety Code was updated to make it illegal for drivers to use a cell phone while behind the wheel.

Demerit Points: 3
Fine: $115- $154

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While all drivers are banned from using cell phones on the road in Saskatchewan, experienced drivers are allowed to use the hands-free option. New drivers in the Graduated Driving License Program, however, are not allowed to talk on a handheld device, period. That means they’re exempt from even using the hands-free option, because their sole focus should be on driving safely.

Demerit Points: 4
Fine: $280

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Drivers under Yukon’s Graduated Driving License Program who are caught using a cell phone, will not only be fined, they will also lose all the hours of driving experience earned to that point. More bad news: they’ll also need to restart the program. It goes without saying that the use of all hand held devices to text, talk or email is forbidden on the roads in Yukon.

Demerit Points: 3
Fine: $250

For more information, visit the Alberta Motor Association’s website.