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Clarifying Cell Phone Use While Driving: BC Supreme Court Ruling in Rex. v. Mirza

In the recent case of Rex. v. Mirza, the BC Supreme Court provides important clarification on the prohibition of cell phone use while driving. The court’s ruling emphasizes that even holding a cell phone by having it on your leg or leaning it against your body constitutes a violation of the law. This decision has significant implications for drivers in British Columbia.

Mr. Mirza found himself on the wrong side of the law when he received a violation ticket on December 15, 2021, for using an electronic device while driving, which is expressly prohibited under section 214.2(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act. Dissatisfied with the outcome, he contested the ticket and took his case to trial on November 2, 2022, representing himself during both the trial and subsequent appeal.

During the trial, conflicting evidence emerged regarding the location of the cell phone in question. Constable Fenety, the officer who issued the ticket, testified that Mirza had a cell phone on his right thigh, while Mirza argued that it was leaning against his leg and not actively used. Despite Mirza’s assertion, the trial court determined that even if the phone was leaning against his leg, it still constituted holding the device within the meaning of the prohibition in law.

Undeterred, Mr. Mirza appealed the trial court’s interpretation of “holding” and sought to introduce new photographs as evidence to support his argument. However, the appeal court rejected the new evidence, as it was not part of the evidence considered during the trial. The court affirmed the trial court’s conclusion, emphasizing that based on Mirza’s own testimony, he had held the phone by having it leaning against his leg.

The appeal court upheld the finding that Mirza’s actions constituted holding the electronic device in a position where it may be used, resulting in a violation of the Act. This ruling reinforces the importance of understanding that any form of holding a cell phone while driving, even without active use, can lead to a distracted driving ticket.

If you have received a cell phone ticket, it is crucial to be aware that it can potentially trigger a driving prohibition or other undisclosed consequences. BC Driving Lawyers are here to help. Our experienced team can provide you with expert advice and defence strategies tailored to your situation. Contact us today for a consultation and let us fight for your rights.

Call BC Driving Lawyers now. If you’ve been caught using a cell phone while driving, our dedicated team is ready to defend you against cell phone and distracted driving tickets.