Community Action

Exemptions

HANDS-FREE DEVICES
Ontario's distracted driving legislation applies to hand-held wireless communications and electronic entertainment devices. Motorists must only use wireless devices in a hands-free manner, such as:

  • A cell phone with an earpiece or headset using voice dialing, or plugged into the vehicle's sound system
  • A global positioning system (GPS) device that is properly secured to the dashboard or another accessible place in the vehicle
  • A portable audio player that has been plugged into the vehicle's sound system

Some wireless devices require that users push a button to activate and/or deactivate the device's hands-free function. This activity is permitted under the law.

HAND-HELD DEVICES
All drivers
Motorists will not be permitted to use hand-held communication and electronic entertainment devices when driving, with the following exceptions:

  • Calling 9-1-1 in an emergency situation
  • When the driver has safely pulled off the roadway and is stationary or is lawfully parked

Not included in the ban:

  • Viewing a display screen used for collision avoidance systems
  • Viewing the display screen of an instrument, gauge or system that provides information to the driver about the status of systems in the motor vehicle

Emergency response personnel
Police, fire department and emergency medical services personnel will be permitted to use hand-held wireless communication devices and view display screens in the normal performance of their duties.

Commercial drivers
A small percentage of motorists in transport-related industries (e.g., school bus and taxi drivers, couriers) and public service workers (e.g., transit and highway maintenance workers) rely on the use of certain types of wireless devices and display screen technologies in the performance of day-to-day operations.

To help these businesses stay competitive, Ontario is granting a phase-out period for the commercial use of two-way radios, including mobile and CB radios, to allow for hands-free technologies to be developed.

The law will not affect mobile data terminals, logistical tracking devices and dispatching devices. They will be exempt for commercial and public service vehicle motorists who are engaged in the performance of their duties.

Hand-mikes (push-to-talk systems) and portable radios (walkie-talkies) may be used in a hands-free mode. This would mean the motorist can use a lapel button or other hands-free application as long as the hand-mike or walkie-talkie is not held while driving.

For more information, please visit the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.