Top misconceptions about using an electronic device
Our lawyers get many calls about electronic device tickets. This is for a variety of reasons, including increased enforcement and the serious increase in penalties as of June 1, 2016. At present, if you receive a ticket for using an electronic device, you will now face an increased fine of $368 and 4 points on your driving record. It has also been designated a “high risk driving offence” by ICBC which means if you receive more than one in a 12 month period, you will face an almost certain driving prohibition.[pullquote]If you have an “N” or Class 7 license, the law and consequences are much stricter. You cannot use… [/pullquote]
While it is no doubt that driving while texting and talking on your phone is a significant danger, many people do not realize the scope of the “Use of Electronic Device Regulations” goes far beyond actually texting or holding the phone to your ear. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions that we hear.
It was on “speaker phone”
In order for the phone to be used at all it must be mounted or secured to your body, it must only require a single touch to operate or be voice activated and must not be held. If your phone is sitting loose, it is still an offence.
I was using the phone as a GPS
Unless your phone is securely mounted to your vehicle, it cannot be used as a GPS (or for anything else) involving the use of the screen. Basically if the screen is visible, the phone must be secured.
I wasn’t sending a text message/making a call
Several of our lawyers have reported seeing self represented people in traffic court try to tender their phone records surrounding the time period they were pulled over to show that they had not sent/received any text messages or phone calls. Unfortunately this does not advance a defence to the charge. According to the regulations, the officer just needs to prove that the phone was being held in a way that it “could” be used, so phone records do little to disprove this.
I just picked it up to check the time/turn on my Bluetooth
Again, all the officer needs to prove is that the phone was being held in a manner that it could be used, so picking it up to view the screen meets that criteria. Turning on Bluetooth can be done if the phone is mounted to the vehicle (or on your person) and only requires one touch to initiate.
I had my headset on
A headset can be used if only one ear piece is worn and the phone is securely attached to either the vehicle or on a persons’ body (such as in their pocket).
It was just charging
You can have the phone in the vehicle charging, but it must be pursuant to the regulations, which means it must either be securely mounted, on your person or the screen must not be visible to you while driving.
Please note that if you have an “N” or Class 7 license, the law and consequences are much stricter. You basically cannot use an electronic device at all. There is case law that indicates it can however be in the vehicle as long as it is not visible, not being held and not being used on hands free. Also note, that as a Class 7 driver, one electronic device ticket is sufficient to result in a prohibition.
Ultimately, there are many evidentiary issues and legal defences that are available when disputing an electronic device ticket. Unfortunately there are many police officers with misconceptions about what is actually illegal. Our lawyers are experienced at obtaining excellent outcomes for their clients. There are many options for dealing with these cases that can reduce the impact and consequences of an electronic device ticket.
Call our lawyers for a free consultation on your case.