Loose phone OK in vehicle

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled the “mere presence of a cellphone within sight of a driver" does not necessarily constitute distracted driving.

CTV News reports the decision came this month after an appeal by a driver convicted in 2018 of using his phone while operating a motor vehicle.

A Vancouver police officer spotted the man looking down while behind the wheel and walked up to the window of the vehicle, spotting a cell phone wedged in the front passenger seat.

The screen was facing up but was not illuminated.

“The fact that the screen wasn’t illuminated was a key element, because it showed that he wasn’t, you know, using the phone in a way where he was just surreptitiously glancing down when he had the opportunity,” lawyer Kyla Lee told CTV.

Justice Murray Blok found the officer never actually saw the driver use the phone and overturned the conviction.

“You can’t get a conviction for just having a phone loose in the vehicle,” Lee added.

Cpl. Mike Halskov of RCMP traffic services said the decision provides some clarity on distracted driving laws. But while the court have ruled its OK to have your phone loose in your car, he said drivers must resist the urge to interact.

“If you receive a text message or a phone call and the screen illuminates and you look at the screen to see who’s calling you or who might be texting you, that would constitute use,” Halskov told CTV.

with files from CTV Vancouver 

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