Cell phones at the wheel

In July 2018, the Highway Safety Code (HSC) amended the section governing cell phone usage while driving by creating HSC Section 443.1. Since this change, the notion of “distracted driving” has been expanded to include many more devices than the standard cell phone. In fact, the section now prohibits any driver of a road vehicle (and cyclist), in addition to using a cell phone, from using any other portable electronic device designed to transmit or receive information OR to be used for entertainment purposes OR that has a screen while driving.

This means that tablets, iPods, smartwatches, and calculators are among the devices that can no longer be used while driving a vehicle. The law has also changed the places where this offence applies. This restriction applies on all public roads, but also in private areas open to traffic such as store parking lots and drive-throughs in restaurants or banks.  


Beware, the legislator thought it was prudent to keep the presumption in the law that if you are holding or handling a hand-held device, you are presumed to be using it even if your device is turned off when the officer gives you the ticket. This also means that the burden of proof is reversed and it is up to you to convince the court that you were not using the device when the police officer stopped you. 


  • A fine of $300 to $600;
  • 5 demerit points;
  • A mention in your driving record at the SAAQ each time you are found guilty of this offense, which will remain for two years from the date of conviction;
  • Administrative suspension on the premises by a police officer in case of a repeat offence which varies between 3 days to 30 days depending on how many times you have pleaded guilty to the offence in the past.


There are 3 exceptions to this section, namely:

  1. to use a hands-free way to interact through the hand-held device;
  2. to use a cell phone or hand-held device that is mounted on a stand so that the view of the road is not obstructed, installed so that the device can be used without interfering with driving, and finally that the only information displayed on the device is information relevant to driving (ex: road maps); 
  3. to use a cell phone or hand-held device when the vehicle is legally parked without violating any existing law or regulation.

If you have received a ticket for using your cellphone vehicle at the wheel or any other electronic device, do not hesitate to contact us so that we can help you make the best decision. Our team will be happy to assist you.