B.C. court: disabling phone while driving still constitutes distracted driving

Phone features like Do Not Disturb While Driving won't help you if you're still holding your phone up while behind the wheel

Distracted Driving on phone

A B.C. court has ruled that holding a cellphone that’s been disabled while behind the wheel still constitutes distracted driving.

The case in question surrounds Patrick Tannhauser, who was issued a ticket near Victoria, B.C. for using his cellphone while driving.

While Tannhauser contested the ticket and has since been acquitted of the charge, the Crown appealed the decision. Now, Chief Justice Bauman has ruled against Tannhauser.

During the investigation, Tannhauser admitted that he was holding his phone while behind the wheel, but he argued against the distracted driving charge because he had the handset’s functions set to shut down while the car is in motion. Tannhauser said his employer installed this software onto his phone. This sounds similar to features like Apple’s Do Not Disturb While Driving, which effectively locks a phone once it registers that you’re in a moving vehicle.

Chief Justice Bauman initially accepted Tannhauser’s defence, but after the Crown appeal, has changed his stance.

“Cellphones are included in the definition of ‘electronic device’ in the [Motor Vehicle Act] MVA,” wrote Bauman, citing B.C. law.

“If the legislature intended the courts to conclude cellphones were not, in fact, electronic devices in certain circumstances, it would have stated this explicitly. In my view, holding an electronic device on top of a steering wheel, in clear view, is sufficient to constitute holding it in a position in which the device may be used.”

Therefore, Bauman has allowed the appeal and ordered a new trail, should the Crown wish to proceed.

Via: Vancouver Sun