Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ontario Drivers' Cell Phone Ban Passes, Law Takes Effect Fall, 2009

The Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act, 2009, Ontario's new law banning use of cell phones while driving, was carried in its Third Reading by our Provincial Legislature on Wednesday, April 22, 2009.

The new law amends the Highway Traffic Act to provide:

Hand-held devices prohibited

Wireless communication devices

78.1 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held wireless communication device or other prescribed device that is capable of receiving or transmitting telephone communications, electronic data, mail or text messages.

Entertainment devices

(2) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held electronic entertainment device or other prescribed device the primary use of which is unrelated to the safe operation of the motor vehicle.

Certain exceptions to this basic rule are also established:

(3) Despite subsections (1) and (2), a person may drive a motor vehicle on a highway while using a device described in those subsections in hands-free mode.

Exceptions

(4) Subsection (1) does not apply to,

(a) the driver of an ambulance, fire department vehicle or police department vehicle;

(b) any other prescribed person or class of persons;

(c) a person holding or using a device prescribed for the purpose of this subsection; or

(d) a person engaged in a prescribed activity or in prescribed conditions or circumstances.

Same

(5) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of the use of a device to contact ambulance, police or fire department emergency services.

Same

(6) Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply if all of the following conditions are met:

1. The motor vehicle is off the roadway or is lawfully parked on the roadway.

2. The motor vehicle is not in motion.

3. The motor vehicle is not impeding traffic.

Media reports indicate the new law will not come into effect until the fall of 2009, pending royal assent and the passage of associated Regulations.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

UPDATE: October 1, 2009

The provincial government announced yesterday that the Ontario drivers' cell phone ban will come into effect October 26, 2009.

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