Starting Monday, Feb. 1, fully licensed drivers caught talking on a hand-held phone or electronic device will face a $167 fine, while those found texting or emailing, or programming their IPOD or GPS will also receive a ticiet that attracts three penalty points.

Police have been stopping drivers throughout January to give them warnings about talking on a cellphone, and people seem to be getting the message and changing their behaviour.

Changes to the Motor Vehicle Act that ban or restrict the use of many electronic devices by drivers came into effect Jan. 1, 2010. Since then, police in many communities have conducted targeted enforcement, issuing warning tickets to drivers seen violating the new rules. According to the Ministry of Solicitor General Website, in the span of one hour, police on Vancouver Island spotted 27 drivers on the Trans-Canada Highway talking on a hand-held phone, resulting in 13 warning tickets. Aparently one driver who was pulled over continued to talk on the phone as the police officer approached the vehicle.

Fully licensed drivers are restricted to using only hands-free cellphones and other electronic devices, and cannot text or email while driving. New drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program face a full ban on using cellphones and electronic devices, including hands-free units, and will receive both the fine and penalty points for any infraction.

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