Judge throws out distracted driving ticket for island driver who was charging her phone

Judge throws out ticket

A Vancouver Island woman has been acquitted of her distracted driving ticket by a judge on Feb. 11, adding yet another layer of clarification to provincial law on the issue.

The decision was issued in Victoria provincial court by judicial justice H.W. Gordon, where they ruled the accused woman - Meghan Sarah Wesley Wylie - was not "using" her phone as defined in the Motor Vehicle Act, and therefore could not be guilty of distracted driving.

CTV News reports the officer who issued the ticket on Dec. 28, 2018, argued that Wylie was using the phone in two ways: by having it plugged into a charger and by having it positioned on her lap.

Wylie argued that the phone was not on her lap, but on the driver's seat next to her right thigh.

Regardless of where the phone was, both Wylie and the officer - named in the decision as Const. M. Christians of the Capital Regional District Integrated Road Safety Unit - agreed that the screen was not illuminated and she wasn't touching the phone with her hands at the time of the stop on Tillicum Road in Esquimalt.

These two facts were key to the judge's interpretation of B.C.'s distracted driving law.

The law defines the use of an electronic device in two ways: holding the device in a position in which it may be used and operating one or more of the device's functions.

Judicial justice Gordon wrote that simply charging a device does not constitute operating one of its functions, in the same way, that plugging in a TV doesn't constitute "using" it.

That said, Gordon notes that "the law on the meaning of use is still not settled."

- With files from CTV News Vancouver Island

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