TORONTO – An Ontario court has hiked the set fine for motorists caught driving while using a cellphone or other prohibited device.

Chief Justice Annemarie Bonkalo of the Ontario Court of Justice has signed an order increasing the set fine to $225 from $125 starting March 18.

That means drivers would face a fine of $280, including surcharges.

However, drivers who fight the ticket by going to court can face fines of up to $500 under the law.

Transportation Minister Glen Murray welcomed the move, saying it could help deter drivers from using their cellphones.

But he wouldn’t say if the government will consider using demerit points as a penalty for distracted drivers.

Police started issuing tickets in 2010, which drivers could settle out of court by paying a fine of $125 plus $30 in surcharges.

When the set fine rises to $225, the surcharges will also increase to $55.

But drivers who received a summons or contest their ticket face larger fines.

Those who endanger others because of any distraction could also be charged with careless driving and receive six demerit points and fines up to $2,000. There are other penalties, including six months in jail, licence suspension for up to two years and criminal charges.

But drivers can use hands-free devices. They are also allowed to use a cellphone to call 911 in an emergency or if they’ve pulled off the road or lawfully parked.