Ontario Court Declares Holding Cellphone While Driving As Illegal

The Court of Appeal for Ontario has declared that it’s illegal to have a cellphone in hand while driving, even if it’s not transmitting and no matter how briefly it’s in a driver’s hand, according to The Globe And Mail. The court also convicted two people on Friday under the Highway Traffic Act, for violating the ban on using cellphones while driving.


Khojasteh Kazemi, one of the two persons charged with violating the ban, argued that she had just picked up her cellphone when a police officer spotted her holding it. She said that her cellphone had fallen off the seat to the floor of her car when she stopped at a red light. While a lower court judge dismissed the charge ruling that there must be some “sustained physical holding” in order to convict, the finding was overturned by the Court of Appeal.

The Ontario legislature’s purpose in enacting the law was to ensure drivers focus “on one thing and one thing only: driving,” the court wrote, quoting then-Transportation Minister Jim Bradley.

“Road safety is best ensured by a complete prohibition on having a cellphone in one’s hand at all while driving,” the Appeal Court wrote in the Kazemi decision.

“A complete prohibition also best focuses a driver’s undivided attention on driving … In short, it removes the various ways that road safety and driver attention can be harmed if a driver has a cellphone in his or her hand while driving.”

In the other case, Hugo Pizzurro was caught driving with a cellphone in his hand but argued it was not capable of sending or receiving at the time. The Appeal Court however concluded that the capability of sending or receiving applies only to devices other than cellphones as cellphones have that capability built in.

“To hold out the possibility that the driver may escape the prohibition because the cellphone is not shown to be capable of communicating, however temporarily, is to tempt the driver to a course of conduct that risks undermining these objectives,” the court wrote.

Are you in a habit of using your cellphone while driving?

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  • john

    Does this mean this will finally apply to police? What about being distracted on the highway and crossing multiple lanes while checking out the laptop?

  • WestCoastStar

    Don’t live near Ontario but unless penalties are stiff there will still be many deaths as a result of texting and driving.

  • Ed Johnson

    Too bad the “not capable of sending or receiving at this time” argument didn’t hold because I could get out of a lot of tickets since I am with Rogers.

  • WestCoastStar

    Why not also applying make-up and driving? Let’s be real here, you can use a hands free device or better yet pull over to make a call.

  • Al

    Any lawyer could have argued that the law did not apply to just holding a phone. However, people typically don’t hire lawyers for traffic court, so they are at the mercy of the prosecution.
    This law needs to be abolished. Although, in principle, it’s good. In practice, it just does more harm than good as people attempt to text with their phones below the window – which means they are significantly more distracted then prior to when the law came into effect, when they could at least keep “some” view of the road in site (not that I’m endorsing texting while driving). But there has been a rise in accidents since the law came into effect and I believe the law is the reason for the increase.

  • Vancouver

    what about holding a mcdonalds cheeseburger and driving?

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Pulling over to make the call is much better. It’s a common misconception that using hands-free is safer than holding the phone. It’s not. It’s the distraction of talking over the phone – not what position your hand is in that makes it unsafe.

  • Sven L

    Does it require both hands to manipulate? Then that’s considered distracted driving. Can you safely operate a motor vehicle and eat it? Then it’s not.

  • Sven L

    People need to realize that when they’re driving, they should be doing just that — DRIVING.

  • Warren

    I guess you’ve never driven with any passengers in your life before because talking to your passengers is the same thing. If you have, it makes you a hypocrite.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    That’s not what the studies say. Google it and you’ll see. It’s not intuitive, but talking to someone that is not aware of what is going on around your car is not the same as talking to someone in your car.

  • Ahmad Tawakol

    What about using an iPod? That’s not a “cellphone” by definition.
    What if I was using my iPhone as an iPod?

  • Tyler Hojberg

    If more theft occurs after new security measures come into place, does that make it right to steal? If more murders occurred after the death sentence was introduced does that make it right to kill? No. We can’t abolish laws because they cause people to further break the law.

  • Safwan Amin

    Driving means driving only, then we should ban eat and drive as well.

  • Al

    Those are insanely ridiculous examples. Holy crap dude.

  • Simon Browning

    As well as having a coffee and driving.

  • Chrome262

    or putting on makeup

  • Chrome262

    still safer then texting, and the fact is, you can’t really tell, People could be singing with the radio for all you know. Hell changing stations is more distracting then talking on hands free.

  • El Cockblock

    I concur, WTF dude…

  • El Cockblock

    Your iPhone is capable of transmitting, therefore you can’t even “use it as an iPod”

    –“The Appeal Court however concluded that the capability of sending or receiving applies only to devices other than cellphones >>>AS CELLPHONES HAVE THAT CAPABILITY BUILT IN.”–

  • Ahmad Tawakol

    I can make phone calls and send messages from my iPod.

  • Al

    Holy crap!!!!! It’s HAND-HELD DEVICES that are banned. Get – a – fucking – clue!

  • Are we still allowed to drive while eating buckets of KFC?

  • Ahmad Tawakol

    The article clearly says CELLPHONES.

  • Al

    But, as EVERYONE knows, the law is “handheld devices” on which cellphones is just being referenced as the subject in this case.

  • Ahmad Tawakol

    You don’t have to be so rude about it. I was just using what was said in the article, assuming that is what the judge said in court. I was only trying to challenge the argument.

  • ban talking and driving

    or having a conversation. it’s more distracting!

  • crasucks

    Most definitely. You can also dip said chicken or fries in sauce, have a coffee, put on makeup, you can apparently program your GPS if it is mounted, you can spend time programming your new fangled Sound System, search for radio stations, read the song listing for that song you like, turn around and scream at your kids, pick up stuff from behind the seat that your kids dumped over, if you can’t read the warning ads you can smoke, light up your smoke, but….. if you pick up your phone, dag nabbit, that is just so not cool, LOL

  • steve

    How is holding a cell phone that is off a danger to the public?

  • Bender Rodriguez

    Oh noes! The phone fell to the floor!… WHERE IT SHOULD HAVE STAYED until she pulled over or got to her destination. Why pick a phone off the floor if not to have it handy to use once she got through the stop sign? We’re not stupid. She picked it up so that she can continue to monitor it for messages or calls.

    The court’s ruling was the correct one. A lot of accidents happen when people begin fishing around for items falling in the car. If something falls, it should stay there until you can pull OVER. A friend was recently telling me of someone she knew who died trying to pick something up in a car he was driving. At least it was just himself he killed. The next time it might have been a captive passenger or someone not in his car.

    Stop that. It’s STUPID. Just drive.

  • Bender Rodriguez

    That’s stupid. Again, we have to dumb it all down for irresponsible people. No, as history proves, when standards are enforced people begin to comply. This permissiveness (that you propose) is how society is getting worse, not better.

  • Bender Rodriguez

    I see what you people are trying to do, but the fact remains that traffic has gotten worse due to cell phones. Eating and other distractions cause congestion and danger, but not to the same “drinking and driving” levels that cell phone usage has.

    So your juvenile point was a waste, helpful only to other juvenile mentalities who like to laugh at argument distractions. (The irony).

  • Bender Rodriguez

    You’re an idiot.

  • Bender Rodriguez

    Yes, he had to be rude. Being polite and informative doesn’t work on most dumb society. Once you get rude, stupid people begin to listen, even if in false outrage.

  • Bender Rodriguez

    Eating is a primal, innate skill. You can eat a whole box of popcorn at a movie and not remember a bit about the popcorn and everything about the movie.

    To eat a hamburger is leaps and bounds less distracting than using your brain to multitask and process a conversation and to manipulate a device while also mentally processing traffic patterns (which you’re no longer doing) and operate a heavy machine travelling at high speeds (5mph is high speed when not looking).

    If you used the radio as an example, I know exactly where my buttons
    are without even looking. There are people who cannot seem to change
    their radio station or click through their song list without looking, and even while looking, they cannot decide what button to push and then have to think about what to push and then fiddle with it with the occasional glance up–those people should be banned from driving. (Obviously not feasible, hence “should” and not “must” be banned).

  • Bender Rodriguez

    I agree. Penalties for using a device while driving should be $500 USD (sorry, I’m not familiar with Canadian conversion rates) on the first offence. Second offence should be a loss of driving for 1 year.

    This is tantamount to drinking and driving and should be addressed as such.

  • Bender Rodriguez

    That is the dumbest shit I’ve heard. Talking to someone live is not the same as attempting to talk on a computer with your hands while driving. (A hand held device is a computer and it demands your mental attention and eyes to use it).

    I’ll agree that having a raucous good time while driving is dangerous. But chatting, silences, chatting, pauses, and chatting, silences and pauses (as the passenger adapts to your need to concentrate) is NOWHERE NEAR the retarded use of a cell phone while driving.

    Use your brain.

  • Bender Rodriguez

    Changing station is NOT more distracting than using hands free. Making shit up to make yourself feel better about your cell phone use–(which you do at a slower pace, holding up people behind you and you DON’T EVEN REALIZE IT… trust me, I observe everyone I pass who’s on a phone)–making up shit doesn’t make it true.

  • Al

    You’re being delusional. All things are not equal, and blindly believing that society will eventually come together and fully conform to this law is just silly. The act of texting while driving is relatively easy to hide, so people who believe they are above this law (and there are many) will continue to text, and whatever else, with their device.

    Cops still do seat belt checks after all these years. Seat belts! The simplest thing you can do and some people still don’t use them. So, get a clue buddy… Those who feel compelled to text are FAR less likely to conform to the law.

    I was in stop and go traffic this week and was behind a girl who was virtually non-stop texting (or on facebook, or youtube, or something that apparently required 99.9% of her attention). This law is not going to make these people stop. It’s just made accidents even more likely to occur because those people are even MORE distracted now that they have to keep their device completely out of view.

    I don’t know what a valid solution would be, but it’s not my job to figure it out.

  • Chrome262

    I don’t use hands free, or cell phones when I drive so no not making shit up. and yes looking away from the road to change the stations or doing anything is more dangerous then actually looking at the road. Driving in general is dangerous, only if you are awake (lots of new stats showing fatigue probably bigger issue than most thing), and paying attention, most of us just don’t.