Starting as early as this coming autumn, Ontarians who are caught texting or using their cellphones while driving will be hit harder, both in their wallets and on their driving records. Ontario motorists could face the heaviest distracted driving penalties in all of Canada: a maximum $1,000 fine, along with three demerit points.

According to Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, the proposed new law will be introduced when the provincial legislature resumes this fall. The changes could have come sooner, were it not for the June 12 provincial election. Del Duca is, however, determined to support Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government plans to revive the bill.

If everything goes to plan, the new bill would hike fines from the $60 to $500 range to between $300 and $1,000, and would include three demerit points. 

As things currently stand, there are no demerit points issued for using a smartphone while driving.

But as harsh as the new law may be on Ontario drivers, the reality is far more disturbing—the Ontario Provincial Police noted earlier this year that investigations into distracted-driving deaths have surpassed those caused by impaired driving.

The OPP reveals that 35 people have died so far this year in motor vehicle collisions in which an inattentive driver was a contributing factor, and in 2013 a tally of 86 people died in distraction-related collisions. 

As of June 30, 2014, the OPP has laid over 10,000 charges to Ontario motorists who were caught driving while distracted. In addition to ramping up their crackdown against texters, the OPP says unmarked police vehicles will patrol the roads this Labour Day Long Weekend.