In April of this year, the Ontario legislature unanimously passed Bill 118 which would make it illegal to use hand-held cell phones, GPS devices and other electronic devices while driving in Ontario.

Today, the government announced the law will come into effect on October 26th.

On that date, Ontario will join Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and hundreds of cities globally banning the use of such devices while driving.

Ontario’s new laws mean that drivers who text, type, email, dial, or chat using a prohibited hand-held device could face fines of up to $500 beginning early next year.

The new law also prohibits viewing a display screen unrelated to the driving task such as laptops or DVD players while driving.    

The provincial government says that for the three-month period that begins October 26, the focus will be on educating drivers, and police will start issuing tickets on February 1, 2010.

Since there is some confusion, here is a brief overview of what will and what won't be allowed under the new legislation.

What won't be allowed?
  • Driving a motor vehicle while viewing screens on laptops or DVD players.
  • Driving a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand held wireless communication device like a cellphone, iPhone or BlackBerry for the purpose of texting/e-mailing or talking.
What will be allowed?
  • Drivers can use a cell phone with an earpiece, headset, or Bluetooth device using voice dialing.
  • Drivers can have a GPS device as long as it is mounted on the dashboard.
  • Using a portable media player (eg.iPod) plugged into the sound system as long as it is mounted on the dashboard
Emergency services workers, including police, paramedics and firefighters will be exempt from the hand-held ban and drivers will be allowed to use their hand-held phones to call 911.