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Distracted Driving Legislation

Distracted Driving Law in Effect - NEW

Effective January 1, 2016 the penalty for distracted driving in Alberta is a $287 fine and three demerit points.

The law applies to all motor vehicles as defined by the . It restricts drivers from:

  • usinghand-held cell phones
  • texting or e-mailing (even when stopped at red lights)
  • using electronic devices like laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays and programming portable audio players (e.g., MP3 players)
  • entering information on GPS units
  • reading printed materials in the vehicle
  • writing, printing or sketching
  • personal grooming (brushing and flossing teeth, putting on makeup, curling hair, clipping nails or shaving)

The law applies to all roads in Alberta. For more information, please read ourFAQs.

For more information about demerits and see below. For information about how demerits affect GDL & Fully Licensed Drivers click here and see below.

Distracted Driving Convictions by Traffic Safety Act Section, 2013 - 2017
Distracted Driving Convictions by Municipality, 2015 2017
Age and Sex of Drivers who Received Distracted Driving Convictions, 2014 2017

Should a driver receive too many demerit points, their drivers licence is suspended. Drivers in the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program are suspended when they collect eight or more points. Fully licensed drivers are suspended when they collect 15 or more points.

Drivers engaged in any of the identified activities can be charged, even if their driving performance doesnt appear to be affected. If a driver commits a moving violation while distracted, they would receive two tickets one for distracted driving and one for the moving violation.

Under the, an emergency vehicle includes police service vehicles, fire response units, ambulances and gas disconnection units. Drivers of emergency vehicles are able to use hand-held communication devices or other electronic devices only when acting within the scope of their employment.

Activities that are not specifically restricted under the law are:

  • using a cell phone in hands-free mode the device is not held in the drivers hand and is activated by voice or a single touch to the device
  • using an earphone if it is used in a hands-free or voice-activated manner
  • drinking beverages coffee, water or pop
  • eating a snack
  • smoking
  • talking with passengers
  • listening to a portable audio player as long as it is set up before you begin driving
  • calling emergency services such as 9-1-1 with a hand-held cell phone
  • using two-way radios or hand-held radios (also known as CB radios) when a driver is required to remain in contact with ones employer, such as when escorting oversized vehicles or when participating in search, rescue and emergency management situations
  • permitting the display screen of the following:
    • a GPS navigation system as long as the system is affixed to the vehicle and programmed before you begin driving or the system is voice activated. You cannot hold the unit or manually enter information while driving
    • a collision avoidance system
    • a gauge, instrument, device or system that provides information about the vehicles systems or the vehicles location
    • a dispatch system for transporting passengers
    • a logistical transportation tracking system that tracks vehicle location, driver status or the delivery of goods for commercial purposes
    • an alcohol ignition interlock device

The most frequently asked question regarding the new law is whether pets are specifically addressed by the law. Here's the answer! In situations where the driver becomes too involved with their pet, police could reasonably argue that the distraction is comparable to the specifically banned activities of reading, writing and grooming and lay a charge.

Also, existing legislation -Traffic Safety Act115(2)(i) - allows police to charge a driver who permits anything, including a pet, to occupy the front seat of the vehicle such that it interferes with the driver's access to the vehicle controls andthe safe operation of the vehicle. Further,Traffic Safety Act115(2)(j) - allows police to charge a driver who permits anything, including a pet, to cause any obstruction to the driver's clear vision in any direction. We encourage the continued use of these existing provisions.

If a driver violates a new distracted driving provision and an existing provision in theTraffic Safety Actit would be up to the discretion of the officer as to if one or both charges would apply.

For the safety of both pets and road users, it is best if pets are secured in an appropriate pet carrier.

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