(Some distracted driving conviction data via the Globe & Mail.)
Pulled over for driving while using a mobile device? The penalty you face varies depending on where in Canada you got caught, from zilch to $1,000. We used CAA data to break it all down by province, and include annual distracted driving convictions, too.
Newfoundland and Labrador: $100 to $400 and 4 demerit points; 1,018 convictions annually
Quebec: $115 to $154 and three demerit points; 47,000-plus convictions annually
New Brunswick: $172.50 and 3 demerit points; 1,389 convictions annually
Manitoba: $200 and 5 demerit points; 2,875-plus convictions annually
Nova Scotia: $233.95 to $578.95 and 4 demerit points; 4,841 convictions annually
Yukon: $250 and 3 demerit points; 84 convictions annually
Saskatchewan: $280 and 4 demerit points; 4,300 convictions annually
Alberta: $287; 27,112 convictions annually
Northwest Territories: $322 and 3 demerit points; 183-plus convictions annually
British Columbia: $368 and 4 demerit points; 48,000 convictions annually
Ontario: $490 to $1,000 and 3 demerit points; 63,813-plus convictions annually
Prince Edward Island: $500 to $1,200 and 5 demerit points; 215 convictions annually
Nunavut: no penalty
Newfoundland banned handheld cell phones, along with text messaging on any device and programming GPS devices while driving, beginning April 2003. In 2010, they upgraded the penalty from a $45-to-$180 fine to a $100-to-$400 fine with demerit points.
In Quebec, using any handheld device with a phone function can net you a distracted driving fine; using the same device hands-free is also not allowed. The fine, now $115 to $154, was originally $80 to $100 when the laws were drafted in April 2008.
Any handheld electronic device use is barred while driving under New Brunswick’s laws, drafted June 2011.
Manitoba kicked their distracted driving laws from January 2010 up a notch or two in April 2013, adding a two-demerit point hit to offenders’ records on top of a fine. Then in summer 2015, they upped that to five demerit points.
In Nova Scotia, as of February 2015, you face a $233.95 fine for your first distracted driving offence (up from the old $164), a $348 hit for your second (previously $222), and a $578 penalty for any time caught after that, plus a max four demerit points. Like Newfoundland, they include handheld cell phone use and any sort of text messaging in their laws, but as of spring 2014 were considering broadening it to include personal grooming or having pets on drivers’ laps.
The Yukon’s distracted driving laws date back to April 2011, and though the province has some of the lowest distracted driver conviction rates in the country, its fines are among the largest.
Drivers across the province have been barred from using handheld communication equipment since January 2010, but new drivers are also not allowed to use any sort of device hands-free.
Alberta is the only province who’ll stick you with a fine not only for texting or using a cell phone, but also for reading, writing or grooming while behind the wheel. Even petting a dog in your lap could mean a $287 penalty. Nova Scotia is considering broadening their distracted driving definitions to cover similar acts.
In June 2014, the Territories updated their January 2012 distracted driving laws so that the penalty handed out to offenders went from $115 to $322, the fattest fine in the country.
B.C.‘s laws, which went into effect 2010, ban handheld device use in general and hands-free use for novice drivers. But, similar to Alberta’s laws, they can technically include eating while driving or having a pet in your lap. As of June 2016, these tickets almost doubled in cost, and coupled with the price of paying off the demerit points technically start at $543 for a first offense. The demerit point cost rises with each infraction until, if you somehow net a 10th offense, you’ll pay $14,888, including the cost of the ticket.
When they were introduced in October 2009, Ontario’s distracted driving laws had a $155 fine attached to them. In March 2014, they were adjusted to between $60 to $500. Legislation that went into effect September 2015 raised that set fine to $490, and lets judges issue a penalty of up tp $1,000, plus hand them three demerit points.
The laws P.E.I. wrote up in January 2010 specifically bar any handheld wireless communication device use while driving. While about average for the country when written, the province doubled the minimum fine to $500 last summer and tripled the max fine to $1,200, plus raised the demerit point penalty to five, from three.
Canada’s newest territory is also the only one without any distracted driving laws on its books—but maybe it doesn’t need ‘em, since it doesn’t have a highway and has only a few paved roads. Collisions caused by lack of attention do come with a maximum $5,000 fine, there, though, plus up to six months in prison.