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Is a phone in a cup holder worthy of a distracted driving ticket?

Last Updated Oct 3, 2019 at 1:11 pm PDT

Summary

Man claims his mom was handed distracted driving ticket in Vancouver even though she wasn't using her phone

Son claims mom's phone was charging in a cup holder, set up with hands-free capabilities when she was handed a ticket

A Vancouver-based lawyer calls the distracted driving ticket 'ridiculous', 'unnecessary'

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – If your phone is simply charging in the cup holder of your car, do you deserve a ticket and $368 fine for distracted driving?

That’s the question being raised by man who says his mom, in her 70s, was handed her first ever citation in over 50 years of driving in B.C.

Trevor Kramer has posted about his mom’s experience on Twitter, showing a picture of his mom’s phone, charging in her car’s cup holder and set up via Bluetooth for hands-free use with the vehicle — as it was, he claims, when she was ticketed by a Vancouver Police officer.

“She was stopped at a red light at Georgia and Hornby and he was standing there on the sidewalk peering into cars, presumably on the search for mobile devices, regardless of where they were positioned. He knocked on her window and she initially thought he was a panhandler,” Kramer writes.

“She says had both of her hands on her steering wheel and was looking forward, until he distracted her to give her a ticket for having a mobile device that she wasn’t even looking at or touching at the time,” he continues.

“As he handed her the ticket, she told the officer that it was her first one ever and he just looked at her. And how would using a mount vs. a cup holder change the interpretation of ‘operating any of the device features or functions?'”

In the post, Kramer tagged outspoken Vancouver lawyer Kyla Lee, who has defended many drivers accused of distracted driving.

“Police ticket for having the phone charging. It’s ridiculous as it is not the distraction the government wishes to prohibit,” she responds.

“You’d think that would be a situation where the police would use discretion to educate rather than issue a ticket. Totally unnecessary. I’m sure if they told her she needed a mount she would have just gotten one.”

Kramer just can’t understand why having a phone, unused, in the cup holder is worthy of a distracted driving ticket.

“How arbitrary. They need to clarify the intention of the legislation, which I’m pretty sure is not to punish seniors like my mom—who bought a car with CarPlay and voice controls for phone functions (including SMS) specifically because she wanted to comply.”

In a statement, Vancouver police say anyone who is unhappy with a ticket or who thinks they’ve been treated unfairly can take the appropriate course of action by disputing the ticket through the courts.

While Constable Steve Addison says he doesn’t know the specific circumstances of this case, “there is precedent that says a person can be ticketed for using an electronic device even if they are not touching it.”

“This would apply if a device is turned on, within reach of the driver, and causing the driver to be distracted,” he adds.