There’s a lot of hype about the increase in fines under Bill 31 and rumours going around that you can be charged for being distracted by drinking coffee, smoking, map reading, fiddling with the radio, arguing with your kids, putting on make-up, etc. but these things are not prohibited by the law. There has been no offence and there is no new offence of “distracted driving”. The governing section is 78.1 of the Highway Traffic Act which is entitled “Wireless Communications Device”. Here is the text:
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.
(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.
Hands-free mode allowed
(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.
(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.
Please note the limited scope and the exception and don’t believe the hype.
- THIS IS NOT LEGALIZATION – Possession of small amounts for personal use is all that will not be illegal. For everything else, the penalties will be stricter as the government tries to muscle its way into the industry. “Canadians already know where to get cannabis, and they will continue to obtain it the same ways they always have.”
- INCREASING MAXIMUM SENTENCES – So the government plans to keep more cases in the lower court by increasing the maximum penalty for ‘less serious’ offences to 2 years less a day (which is served in provincial institutions). I don’t know about you but when I think about what that would mean to me if I was sentenced to two years less a day in jail, I’m confident I’d consider it pretty serious.
- MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION – So much is uncertain. What will happen to the present dispensaries? Will they disappear after legalization?
- POTHOLES – “How can you have people found guilty when they are not impaired?” “Unlike alcohol, there are no proven links between THC blood levels and impairment.” “There is also the question of medicinal users, who would typically have elevated THC levels most or all of the time and many veteran dope smokers would be able to drive with undiminished skills at the rookie THC levels proscribed by C-46 because of their body’s greater tolerance.”
- AND NOW THE BRAMPTON COURT – It’s not only the College Park courthouse that is under pressure but also the Brampton Courthouse has problems with drug cases being tried on time…claimed to be lack of resources. “We have a retention problem because our salaries and working conditions are unfavourable compared to our counterparts,” said Ursula Hendel, president of the Association of Justice Counsel, referring to provincial Crown attorneys, who prosecute the bulk of criminal offences in Ontario.”