A Saanich, B.C. man is the second person to be ticketed with distracted driving in the province in the last four weeks, for charging his phone in the vehicle’s cup holder.
Josh Delgado says he was issued the ticket while driving his work van on Sept. 23. A police officer approached him while stopped at a traffic light. His phone was charging through a USB charger face down at the time, while connected to the vehicle’s stereo via Bluetooth.
“The officer knocked on my window, I rolled the window down, asked him what was going on he said he saw me looking down. And then he looked down and saw my phone,” he tells Global News. “I told him I’d dispute it and I think he might have even said something like, ‘You probably have a good chance’ and went on his way.”
Since his phone was connected to the Bluetooth system, as per his company’s rules, any messaging or phone calls would have come through the van’s speakers.
Delgado says he feels like a warning would have been more efficient and has since filed a dispute to fight the ticket.
@vicpdcanada is it illegal to have a cellphone stored in your cupholder while driving? I see that @IRPlawyer is defending a lady in Richmond who was slapped with a $368 fine for this and im interested on your take so that law-abiding citizens can avoid large fines and demerits.— Josh Delgado (@itbedelgado) October 2, 2019
Earlier this month, an elderly woman in Vancouver was issued a ticket under similar circumstances. Randi Kramer of Richmond, B.C. was stopped at a red light in Vancouver and ticketed for having her cell phone visible while charging in her vehicle’s cup holder. A few days later, her son Trevor Kramer told local media that the ticket was voided and a sergeant had phoned his mother to apologize.
Kyla Lee, a Vancouver-based lawyer who specializes in traffic-related laws, says the latest incident shows that the police aren’t getting the message as to what constitutes distracted driving. Delgado reached out to Lee on Twitter and told her that all the office had relayed to him was that the ticket was issued based on where the phone was located in the vehicle, even though he didn’t see him interacting with it.
“We shouldn’t have to tie up valuable resources we have in court and make everyone else wait longer for determination for their traffic court cases, because police aren’t properly following the law when it comes to distracted driving tickets,” she tells Yahoo Canada. “Ultimately this becomes too costly for the justice system.”
Distracted driving can be considered any use of a phone and its features while it’s in a vehicle moving in traffic, and not stopped safely on the side of the road. That includes talking, texting, using the GPS or playing music through the phone.
Drivers are only permitted to do those things if the phone is securely mounted to the vehicle or to the driver, and it’s playing through the speakers. Talking and texting can be done through the speakers or through a Bluetooth accessory, if mounted to the vehicle or worn through an earpiece in one ear. However, Lee says that a general term for “use” – operating the features of the phone – has been interpreted in some cases as charging the phone.
A spokesperson for Saanich police told Global News that the department had reviewed the ticket and that it wouldn’t be cancelled.