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Cell phone tickets in BC

Police plan for cell phone tickets

You likely know that since 2010 the use of cell phones while driving in British Columbia has been illegal, except for hands-free devices.  Officials have dubbed such initiatives “distracted driving laws” as they claim to be able to trace many car accidents back to cell phone usage.  Currently, the penalty for cell phone tickets is a fine and usually points on your driving record.

What you should know is that Jamie Graham, Victoria’s Chief of Police and Head of the British Columbia Association of Police Chiefs (“BCAPC”), wants to change the penalty by making it much more severe.  His rationale?  Statistics relating to tickets and cell phone use have significantly increased since 2010.  In 2010 police issued over 21,000 cell phone tickets, in 2011 police issued over 37,000 and in 2012 police issued over 44,000.  Graham concludes on that basis that drivers aren’t getting the message.

In addition to the fine and driver’s license penalty, he wants to raise the fine to $350, and, take note; he wants to seize your phone.  He wants to confiscate your cell phone for 24 hours for a second offence and 3-5 days for subsequent offences.

Graham plans to present a draft of his initiative to the BCAPC at a June conference where other members will discuss and debate it.  They must pass it as a motion before they present it to the government, though it currently has unanimous support.

You should care about this because the police want to disregard your right to privacy and privacy laws.  The purpose of The Privacy Act is to set limits on the extent to which government departments and agencies collect, use and disclose personal information.   The seizing of cell phones flout privacy laws because cell phones contain texts and emails and the police would be able to view any information that is displayed on your phone.

And of course there would also be no way to appeal such seizures because like the IRP driving prohibitions, the damage is already done before any hearing takes place.  Such actions are problematic because it allows the police to punish individuals when this is a function of our courts.