One of the most common charges we see nowadays is Hand-held Communication Device charges or Cell Phone Ticket. The government is taking a hard-line on the use of cell phones while driving. The courts are doing the same. So it follows that your insurance company will use it to their advantage too.
UPDATE: New Fines and Penalties including 3 Day Licence Suspension Upon Conviction Effective January 1 2019
On January 1, 2019, the day named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, subsection 78.1 (6.1) of the Act is repealed and the following substituted: (See: 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 16)
(6.1) Every person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable,
(a) for a first offence, to a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000;
(b) for a first subsequent offence, to a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $2,000; and
(c) for a second subsequent or an additional subsequent offence, to a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $3,000. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 16.
(6.2) If a person is convicted of an offence under this section, the Registrar shall suspend his or her driver’s licence,
(a) for a first offence, for three days;
(b) for a first subsequent offence, for seven days; and
(c) for a second subsequent or an additional subsequent offence, for 30 days. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 16.
(6.3) An offence under this section committed more than five years after a previous conviction for an offence under this section is not a subsequent offence for the purposes of subsection (6.1) or (6.2). 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 16.
As of today the Highway Traffic Act states:
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. 2009, c. 4, s. 2; 2015, c. 27, Sched. 7, s. 18.
This is the meat and potatoes of the legislation, there are 2 parts to this charge, “holding or using”. “OR” is the operative word here. Most people believe they must have been using the phone for the charge to stick, that is wrong. Most of the time the officer will say you were holding the phone and that will be enough for him or her to lay the charge, and generally enough for the Justice of the Peace to convict.
(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. 2009, c. 4, s. 2.
This is the second part and much less common but the same applies as above.
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. 2009, c. 4, s. 2.
You may use a Cell Phone in hands free mode such as Bluetooth but you still cannot be holding it.
So best practice is not to use your phone or device while driving at all! Second is to use Bluetooth or something similar if you must.
Third and probably most important is keep your mouth shut when the officer does stop you. The more you talk the more likely you are to convict yourself. Officers keep notes but they are selective. If the Officer has stopped you he has already determined he is going to write you a cell phone ticket. It is extremely unlikely you will be able to talk your way out of it.
If this happens to you your best advise is to stay quiet and polite, yes and no answers, then call us, we handle these charges everyday!