Moose Jaw Judge: Looking At Cellphone While Driving Isn’t The Same As Using It


A Moose Jaw judge ruled that Saskatchewan man Cory Haliwyz is not guilty after receiving a cellphone ticket last year. Haliwyz was driving on Moose Jaw’s Main Street in May 2014 when he got the ticket for distracted driving.

A police officer saw Haliwyz holding his cellphone while driving. The officer stopped Haliwyz and saw an incoming text message on the phone.

“The man told a provincial court judge he didn’t push any buttons or manipulate the iPhone. He said when he heard it buzz, he picked it up and briefly looked at the locked screen to see if it was his daughter.”

The Crown argued against the judge, saying that the province’s cellphone law is intended to stop distracted drivers. They said that Haliwyz should have been found guilty, however, Judge Margaret Gordon disagreed. In a written statement, Gordon said:

“Mr. Haliwyz looked at the screen, saw who it was and nothing more. He did not touch any of the controls, press any of the buttons or do anything active.”

The judge says that Haliwyz was found not guilty because he was only looking at his cellphone, and that’s not the same as using it. Gordon said the law doesn’t prohibit drivers from looking at their electronic devices.

What do you think of the judge’s decision in this distracted driving case? Let us know in the comments below.

[via CBC News]

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  • J M

    The judge is an idiot.

  • Andy

    Such an iffy situation here. Sure he was distracted by holding the phone and looking it, but what if the phone was attached to a mount and he looked at it, would the Crown charge him the same way? Is GPS looked at it the same way?

  • J M

    No. These distracted driving laws are based on the use of “hand-held devices.” The fact he had the device in his hands is grounds for a charge. Like I said below, the judge is an idiot.

  • ????Dennis

    No, you’re the idiot and DL just proved that.

  • Chrome262

    Truth is the driver was distracted, but the law does state use so the judge was correct. It would of been the same if he was staring at the radio.

  • J M


  • Yet one is perfectly legal and the other gets you a fine.

  • winnertakesteve

    I couldn’t hope to wade in on legalities, but in general I think the problematic thing with even glancing at a phone is that notifications tend to be small text that could easily be distracting squinting to read.

    Wish there was a voluntary mode you could put your phone in that minicked something more like CarPlay for dash mounted usage. Car manufacturer infotainment systems are probably equally or more distracting anyway.

  • SV650

    Actually the BC regulation states “watches”, not “looking at” or “looks at”. It also specifically allows the use of GPS, and televisions. Thus, I believe one may look at the GPS screen to navigate, but may not watch the television.

    Be careful excerpting any regulation, as it must be read in context with the rest of the regulation AND the Act under which authorizes it, as well as needing to be interpreted using common language where words are not specifically defined.

  • I think this ruling makes sense. A quick glance to see who it is (not read the whole text) is not much different than glancing down at the speedometer to see how fast I’m travelling (which should be done by drivers regularly, one could argue) or glancing down to press the A/C button. If you discover that the text is from someone you might need to respond to immediately, then you can pull over to read it.

  • hawkeye

    the bottom line is all drivers get distracted and these momentarily lapses in concentration can and will continue to have fatal results. Common sense or lack of it is not a legal issue and therefore these cases are up for interpretation by whoever wields the gavel. ” a wink is as good as a nod to a blind horse ” ……….Too many blind horses driving …