More than a week after the province banned drivers from using handheld devices while behind the wheel, Ottawa police are still seeing drivers use cellphones, BlackBerry-type devices and even playing video games.

So far, there has only been “a very slight difference” in the number of people using devices behind the wheel, said Sgt. Al Ferris with the Ottawa Police Traffic Escort Unit, who suggested that one of the reasons is that there is no deterrent.

Police have been giving warnings to people seen using — or even just holding — handheld wireless devices and entertainment units behind the wheel.

The “warning phase” continues to Jan. 31, said Ferris. “But in the event there is a serious injury or death that results directly from the use of these devices, the provincial court has allowed us to lay charges.

“If we stop someone, all the information is … entered into a system,” said Ferris. “And if the person is stopped again, they might lose the privilege of getting off with just a warning because they’ve been stopped before.”

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