Ontario's ban on held devices - know the law and the consequences

Published on May 01, 2012

When you are driving, it is important to pay attention. Distracted driving can lead to serious accidents. For this reason, it is important to not talk on your cell phone or become distracted by any type of hand held device when you get behind the wheel. Many countries have adopted bans on using a hand held device while driving. This includes Ontario, which placed a ban on using any type of hand held device while driving in October of 2009.

What is Considered a Hand Held Device

A hand held device is constituted as any type of device that is used by your hands when you are driving. This includes cell phones, GPS navigation systems, any type of device that has a screen that displays images. Basically any type of device that causes some type of distraction while driving is considered to be dangerous and is banned from use while behind the wheel.

What is Exempt from the Law?

Drivers that pull over to the side of the road to use their device will not be cited. However, it is important to note that pulling over on a highway is dangerous and should only be done in case of an emergency.

If you are making a 911 call, you will be exempt from the hand held device law. Pressing a button in order to turn on the hands free mode of a cell phone or other device is not considered a violation of the law. These devices must be securely mounted in the vehicle.

A GPS system, a built in collision avoidance system, or a built in device that shows the status of the vehicle, provides road conditions, or weather conditions will not be considered a violation of the hand held device law. A device that displays a still screen, such as an iPod or mp3 player that displays the name of the artist and song title is not considered to be in violation of the law.

Police officers, firefighters, and paramedics are exempt from the law when using communication devices while performing their jobs.


After the law came into effect in October of 2009 a three month exemption period was given. As of January, 2010 police officers are allowed to issue tickets for violations of the hand held law. Drivers are allowed to settle the ticket out of court by paying a fine of $125, a victim fine surcharge of $25, and a $5 fee for court costs for a total of $155. A driver that receives a summons or decides to contest the charge by attending a court procedure may receive a fine of up to $500.

No demerit points are given to individuals that are fined for this offence. Additionally, a police officer will not confiscate any hand held devices from an individual that is found to be breaking the no hand held device law. A driver that is found to be endangering the lives of others because of using hands held or hands free device or any other type of distraction can be charged with reckless driving. The individual that is charged with careless driving can face fines of up to $2000. A jail term of six months may also be given for this infraction. Drivers that are found to be endangering lives because of distractions such as this will also receive 6 demerit points on their driving record.


The main reason that this law was put into place was for the safety of drivers. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous and it has been found that the use of hand held devices while driving is similar to driving drunk and just as dangerous.

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