Trucker issued distracted driving ticket for using legally-exempt VHF radio

'Ticketed for doing our jobs'

After one of his drivers got slapped with a distracted driving ticket recently, one local trucking company owner is speaking out over the legitimacy of the violation.

Joe Sinclair was hauling a manufactured home along 32 Street (Highway 97) in Vernon, which required him to take up both lanes of traffic. He then noticed the RCMP had pulled over his pilot driver, which forced Sinclair to shut off his hauling truck and end up stalling traffic on the street for an extended period of time.

"The officer pulled him over for using his VHF radio which we are required by law to use, and he gave him a ticket for it," says Sinclair. "We told the officer that we have to use the radios by law, but he wouldn't listen to us and told us to argue it in court if we had an issue."

According to RoadSafetyBC, two-way radios are exempt from the Motor Vehicle Act – Use of Electronic Devices While Driving. A fine for a single distracted driving ticket is $368, along with four penalty points issued to the driver's record. It also entails a further $252 ICBC Driver Penalty Point premium, for a total of $620 for a first infraction.

Those penalties are for a single infraction for a single driver, so for someone who owns a company that revolves around the transportation sector, even a single ticket can have a significant impact.

"Those penalty points not only go on my driver's record but on my business' record, which can negatively impact my company," says Sinclair. "Also the insurance for my fleet of trucks is almost $50,000 a year so any increase to that can really hurt us, especially if the ticket shouldn't even have been issued in the first place."

Sinclair plans to fight the ticket in court, but fighting the charges will still eat up time and money in order to avoid the penalties. He is getting fed up with the process, especially since he says this isn't the first time it's happened to him and his business.

"We've been given these tickets before for basically just doing our jobs, and it's very frustrating to have to deal with it," says Sinclair. "And I know we're not the only ones, I've heard stories from other truckers and I've seen posts on social media, so this is not an isolated incident."

Sinclair says it was the RCMP's Integrated Road Safety Unit who had pulled over his driver during the incident, which is an organized unit of traffic enforcement officers that are comprised of both the RCMP and municipal police.

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