Ont. MoT official release on Bill 118

As of October 26, 2009, Ontario’s new distracted driving law will make it illegal for motorists to use hand-held wireless communication devices or any hand-held electronic entertainment devices while driving.This includes hand-held cell phones, texting and e-mailing.

Hands-free devices will still be permitted.

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


The new law applies only to hand-held wireless communications and hand-held electronic entertainment devices.  This means drivers must only use wireless devices that can be used in a “hands-free” manner:

  • a cell phone with an earpiece or headset using voice dialling, 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.


All drivers

Drivers will not be permitted to use hand-held communication and 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.

Other devices not included in the ban:

  • Viewing a display screen used for collision avoidance systems
  • Viewing a 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 communications devices and view display screens in the normal performance of their duties.

The use of hand-held radios by amateur radio operators (who provide assistance, especially in emergency situations such as severe storms and blackouts) will be phased out within three years, to allow hands-free technologies to be developed.

Commercial Drivers

A small percentage of drivers in transport-related industries (e.g., school buses, taxis, 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 three-year 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 new law will not affect mobile data terminals, logistical tracking devices and dispatching devices.  They will be exempt for commercial and public service vehicle drivers 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 driver can use a lapel button or other hands-free application as long as the hand-mike or walkie-talkies is not held while driving.

2 Responses to “Ont. MoT official release on Bill 118”

  • “Exception: When the driver has safely pulled off the roadway and is stationary or is lawfully parked. ” Maybe on a major highway that can work. Ok try that one on Hwy 144. It has no shoulders. None. Nada.
    Your only chance is to find a bush road to pull into and hope a logging truck won’t wipe you out. This is going to make us safer?
    I wish the people drafting legislation would venture beyond the confines of the 416 area code before they put pen to paper.
    Paul, VA3PC

  • I am intrigued by the inclusion of this “pushing buttons” option in the regulation. I assume it was probably included because Bluetooth headsets for cell phones require you to push a button once (and release) to answer a call, and then again to hang up.

    So if a ham is using a lapel microphone (aka speaker microphone for us) and needs to hold down the PTT for the duration of a transmission, does that mean we are still “hands free”? Technically speaking, probably not…but I dare say that any reasonable person who kept transmissions fairly short and made driving safety his/her priority could probably get by indefinitely without being charged under the new law.

    At any rate, all is not lost…there are always Heil headsets and I’ve already bought one. To be sure, with a headset you lose your capability to input DTMF tones when driving, and I blame the manufacturers for not having provided us with more technical solutions. Even my crappy $50 cell phone dials numbers when I talk to it…why can’t Yaesu, Kenwood, Icom and Alinco do the same in a $1,000 radio? :) Voice recognition technology has been out there for years!

    Joe, VE3LNU

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