Nova Scotia is getting tougher on people who use cellphones while driving. Beginning Feb. 1, fines for texting and using hand-held cellphones while driving will increase, and demerit points will be added. “Put your phone away or turn it off before you start to drive,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Geoff MacLellan. “There is no call or text worth losing a life. Don’t take the chance. Pay attention to the road, not the phone.” The increased fines and new demerit points mean Nova Scotia will soon have some of the strongest fines in the county for using hand-held cellphones, or texting, while driving. Currently, fines range from $176.45 for a first offence to $348.95 for a third, or subsequent offence. As of Feb. 1, the fines will increase to $233.95 for a first offence to $578.95 for a third or subsequent offence. Four demerit points will be added if convicted. For people with learner’s licences, four points would suspend their licence for six months. For an experienced driver with a clean record, 10 points brings a six-month suspension. There are exemptions for using a cellphone to report an emergency. Amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act for using hand-held cellphones and texting while driving were tabled in November 2010 but not proclaimed.