The BC Motor Vehicle Act defines the use of an electronic device as holding it in a way that it could be used, using the device’s functions, talking to someone through the device, watching the screen or listening to music. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

RCMP clarify law after B.C. mom ticketed for using dash-mounted phone

‘Legislation is clear with respect to using [a] phone while driving,’ says one officer

Brittney Taylor was issued a $368 distracted driving ticket in Saanich but her lawyer says the violation doesn’t apply to her licence and that the legislation isn’t clear enough.

RCMP Cpl. Mike Halskov disagrees. He couldn’t comment on the specific incident because it’s between Taylor, the officer who issued the ticket and the court, but he noted that “legislation is clear with respect to using [a] phone while driving.”

Halskov explained that a secured phone can only be used with one touch but that any scrolling or button-pushing is considered use of the device and is therefore subject to a ticket.

Halskov also pointed out that since the courts ruled in 2019 that having a phone in the cupholder, on the seat or on a charger doesn’t constitute use, BC RCMP issued specific guidance as to what is considered to be use of a device.

READ ALSO: Saanich mom gets $368 traffic ticket for touching phone mounted to dashboard

Taylor was pulled over on Dec. 31, after changing the song on her phone which was mounted to her dash. Despite this being her first violation in 10 years of driving, along with the ticket for use of an electronic device while driving, the Capital Regional District Integrated Road Safety Unit (IRSU) officer also issued four demerit points on her licence which cost her another $210 bringing the total to $578.

Taylor, a psychology student at the University of Victoria and single mom, was upset about receiving the hefty ticket rather than a warning so she took to Twitter the next day to voice her anger.

Vancouver-based Immediate Roadside Prohibition lawyer Kyla Lee replied to Taylor’s tweet saying that the violation the officer ticketed her for was for a licence restriction for N and L drivers, Class 5. Lee went on to write that since Taylor has her full license, a Class 5, the ticket is invalid and should, therefore, be cancelled.

She noted that according to the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act (MVA), there is zero-tolerance for use of electronic devices for N and L drivers with a Class 7 licence. However, drivers with a full licence – Class 5 – are allowed to use a device for calls as long as it’s mounted to the dash and either voice-activated or can be answered with one touch. She said the legislation isn’t clear enough so people end up violating it or getting ticketed incorrectly.

READ ALSO: Unclear laws to blame for cupholder cellphone tickets: lawyer

The MVA Section 214.1 defines “use” as holding a device in a way that it could be used, using one or more of the device’s functions, talking to someone through the device, watching the screen or playing music.

The definition of “use” is not met when a device is kept loose in the car or being charged but not being watched or used hands-free. It’s also noted that L and N drivers can have a device in the car, but cannot use it in any way.

For more information about distracted driving, visit the RCMP website or check the MVA.


@devonscarlett
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devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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