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

COVID-19 brings burning ban to Clearwater and area

The reason for the ban is to help reduce excess air pollution in populated air-sheds

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Kamloops-Thompson teachers to connect with parents to reveal plans for remote teaching

School district also asking parents to ensure children are practicing social distancing

Interior Health issues alert following confirmed COVID-19 case on WestJet flight

The public exposure alert comes following the March 21 WestJet flight from Calgary to Kamloops

Clearwater COVID-19 precautions update

Local groups and facilities taking measures to keep the public safe

Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses amid COVID-19

This is up from the previously announced 10 per cent wage subsidy

World update, 9:30 p.m. March 27: Positive news in Korea as U.S. hits 100,000 cases

The United States now has the most coronavirus cases of any country in the world

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

Food Banks BC already seeing surge in demand due to COVID-19 pandemic

Executive director Laura Lansink said they expect applications will keep increasing

Nanaimo couple caught aboard cruise ship with four dead and COVID-19 present

Four ‘older guests’ have died on Holland America’s Zaandam; cruise line confirms two COVID-19 cases

Frontline workers receiving COVID-19 isolation exemptions prompt concerns

Provincial Health Authority staff exempt from self-isolation upon return from international travel

Most Read