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HomeNews & ArticlesHandheld Devices – Common Questions Asked By Drivers
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Handheld Devices – Common Questions Asked By Drivers

April 21, 2017  |  By:  Lara Fitzgerald-Husek

Can I text while I’m at a stop sign or a red light?

Ontario’s distracted driving laws prohibit drivers from using handheld communication and electronic entertainment devices while driving and from viewing display screens that are not related to driving.

Handheld devices include cellphones, but the laws also apply to the following handheld devices: Mp3 players, GPS, laptops, tablets and DVD or Blu-Ray players.

Ontario traffic laws prohibit drivers from using a cellphone, entertainment system, MP3 player, or tablet while operating a motor vehicle, even while stopped in traffic, or at a stop sign or at a red light. You can only view display screens that are related to driving and only if they are properly mounted/secured within your vehicle.

Drivers must be pulled off the roadway completely so they are not blocking traffic and they must park and turn the vehicle off prior to using or even holding a handheld device.

The only exception is if you need to call 9-1-1 in an emergency situation.

The rules are explained in a regulation under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (Regulation 366/09).

Can I use a cellphone?

You can use voice-activated features of a cellphone while driving if it is in “hands-free” mode and is mounted or secured.

It is against the law in Ontario to use or look at your cellphone while driving, unless it is mounted or secured and being used in hands-free mode.

You are not allowed to hold your phone, or use it to scroll, dial or text at any time, until you have pulled over and parked. You may not text or use your phone while stopped in traffic, or at a stop sign or at a red light.

Can I use my GPS?

If you need to type the destination or other information into your GPS system, you need to do so before you start driving. You may not type while driving, or while stopped in traffic, at a stop sign or at a red light. Your GPS needs to be mounted on the dashboard or windshield – you cannot keep it on your lap and look down to use it.

Can I use my MP3 or music player?

You need to turn your music player on and activate the playlist before driving. You cannot scroll through music while driving and you are not permitted to hold the music player. The law in Ontario prohibits drivers from holding on to any hand held device – it is not limited to cellphones.

What happens if I use my handheld device while driving?

The charge for violating the distracted driving laws is a $490 fine and three demerit points.
Novice drivers with a G1 or G2 licence who are found using a handheld device could lose their licence on the spot for at least 30 days.


About the Author

Lara Fitzgerald-Husek

Lara completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto in Ethics, Society, and Law and International Relations. She obtained her Juris Doctor and Master of Public Administration at...

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