Using an electronic device while driving in B.C. can net you a $368 fine. (Pixabay photo)

Using an electronic device while driving in B.C. can net you a $368 fine. (Pixabay photo)

B.C. judge tosses ‘N’ driver’s claim he was just using phone to decline his mom’s call

Distracted driving laws are more strict for Class 7, or Novice drivers, the judge noted

A young driver has been ordered to pay a distracted driving ticket after failing to argue to a B.C. judge that he was only using his phone to ignore a call from his mother.

According to the decision made in provincial court in Port Coquitlam Tuesday, Hao Bin Tang was driving on Barnet Highway in Port Moody in January when he was pulled over for speeding by a police officer who was using a radar detector curb-side.

The officer, who is not named in the court documents, told the judge that he approached the passenger side of the vehicle within seconds of the stop and saw Tang in the driver’s seat holding his lit-up cellphone in both hands with his head down.

He asked for Tang’s license and discovered he was a Class 7 or “Novice” driver, which meant he was under an electronic device restriction, the court heard. The officer issued Tang a $368 ticket for using an electronic device.

But Tang, who was born in 2000, told the judge he wasn’t using his phone while the vehicle was in motion.

“As a very educated and sane person I would definitely not have taken out my cell phone unless it was parked,” Tang said. “My mother was calling me.”

ALSO READ: Eating cereal, trimming nose hairs – it’s all illegal while driving

In order to turn off the call, Tang said, he pulled his car over and shut off the call, before returning it back to “the secure location” that it was in.

Justice Shusheela Joseph-Tiwary, who noted that Tang was “somewhat guarded on the stand,” wasn’t buying it.

Exactly how far cellphone restriction laws can go when it comes to penalizing distracted drivers have been put to the test several times over the last year. In March, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled that the mere presence of a cell phone within sight of a driver is not enough for a conviction.

Vancouver police cancelled a distracted driving ticket against a Lower Mainland senior after her son took to social media to show his mom’s phone was sitting in her cupholder when the officer gave her the fine.

READ MORE: Police cancel $368 ticket given to B.C. senior for having cellphone in cupholder

But in this incident, given his Class 7 driving status, Tang wasn’t allowed to use a phone while driving – even if it were to be used hands free, Joseph-Tiwary said, noting that modern cellphones give plenty of options to be alerted to messages without directly looking at the phone screen.

“Mr. Tang had the ability to not only receive calls and messages on his active phone, but to also monitor activity to determine who was calling as he drove on the highway prior to his coming to a stop,” Joseph-Tiwary continued. “Simply leaving the phone turned on within the vehicle, say, in the console area is sufficient to facilitate access to the information on the phone.”

Joseph-Tiwary added that she isn’t suggesting “N” drivers are prohibited from physically having a cell phone in their car all together and are allowed to use them in a case of emergency or when parked, as laid out in the Motor Vehicle Act regulations. However, “incoming calls and information on the device operating within the vehicle poses a source of distraction.”

Tang was ordered to pay the fine.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

(File Photo)
Fernie Chamber to host virtual chat with business and physicians Jan. 18

The online conversation seeks to address issues including contact tracing in the community

The number of skiers and snowboarders using the Fernie ski shuttle to get to Fernie Alpine Resort from town is down by 77 per cent this season. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Shuttle use down 77 per cent as travel advisory bites

The ski shuttle in Fernie is reducing it’s frequency to five times a day as a result

A photo from an early construction stage taken in the fall of 2020. (Photo Contributed)
Elkford’s Meeting Place comes to life

Construction on the outdoor space is set to wrap up this coming summer

The RDEK is accepting applications for the CBT’s Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Programs. File Photo)
CBT’s Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Programs accept proposals

Sparwood reminds residents to apply for the grants prior to Jan. 18 at 2 p.m.

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon's Heritage Square long-term care home has claimed seven people. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Two more COVID-19 deaths at Vernon care home

Heritage Square has now lost seven people due to the outbreak

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Most Read