Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan says distracted driving is as serious as impaired driving and the bigger fines and loss of demerit points is aimed at influencing the behaviour of drivers.
The new penalties take effect Feb. 1, with exceptions for people who use their cellphones to report an emergency.
A conviction for using a hand-held device while driving will mean the loss of four demerit points from a driver's licence.
Meanwhile, the fine for a first offence jumps from $176.45 to $233.95.
The fine for a second offence increases from $233.95 to $348.95, and a third offence from $348.95 to $578.95
The government first announced the new penalties last year.Suggest a correction