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DISTRACTED DRIVING – WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN’T DO

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.
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.
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.

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