Quebec Man Gets $120 Fine for Using Apple Watch While Driving

Quebec man and Apple fan Jeffrey Macesin was changing songs with his Apple Watch while driving, he got pulled over by provincial police and hit with a $120 ticket and four demerit points. Quebec Highway Safety Code says “no person may, while driving a road vehicle, use a hand-held device that includes a telephone function.”

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Traffic lawyer Avi Levy says the law is not clear and says the Apple Watch is rather a Bluetooth device, instead of a phone:

Traffic lawyer Avi Levy agreed the law isn’t clear.

“It was just a question of time before we actually got a case like this,” Levy said.

“I’m not convinced that the Apple Watch itself is a phone,” he added. “It’s rather a Bluetooth device that communicates the telephone signal from the phone and it has been established under the law that you are allowed to use Bluetooth devices.”

Macesin says he will dispute the ticket and may consider hiring a lawyer to represent him in court. He says he understands police are doing their jobs, but said he “wants people to know there are no laws against it yet,” but also saying it’s “not about the money.”

Earlier this month, the Ontario Provincial Police said using an Apple Watch could be considered “careless driving”, despite distracted driving laws targeting hand-held devices, while Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO) said it’ll be up to police discretion to make the call.

In BC and Alberta, smartwatches are considered electronic devices and are banned from use while driving. In Saskatchewan, the Apple Watch would not be considered a hand-held, but could still be charged for unsafe driving if one was caught using it. In Nova Scotia, it is against the law to text on any communications device.

The Canadian Automobile Association said at the time there is no law banning checking the time—so glancing at your Apple Watch should be okay.

At the end of the day, while some of these distracted driving laws may have grey areas, one could consider the Apple Watch a distraction. Alerts go straight to the wrist and it’s tempting to glance at your wrist when it’s right in front of you. I’ve been there and it’s very hard to resist the Taptic Engine.

Then again, putting on make up, shaving, bathing and eating a double cheeseburger while behind the wheel could be equally distracting.

What do you think? Should the Apple Watch be considered a smartphone and be banned for use while driving?

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  • If it ever went to court and got picked apart detail by detail, I would think it would be labeled as a hand held device.

    My reason for thinking this is it’s a mobile device on your person, with a microphone and speaker, is not totally hands free as it still requires human interaction to operate.

    I could be wrong, but that’s my line of thinking. Interesting story for sure though.

  • SnozWrap

    This is really a conundrum of the age we live in. Each jurisdiction is trying to come to terms with inconsistencies and antiquated laws.

    Ultimately, most people agree that these laws have the best of intentions. To save lives—much like seatbelt laws which were met with resistance when they were introduced.

    The problem is that we are in such a convoluted area that neither law enforcement nor the general public are clear on what is, or is not, allowed.

    Looking at one’s watch for the time, changing a radio station, or having a conversation with a passenger are all distractions. However, they are arguably distractions that pose a minimal risk. They are also activities that would be unreasonable to restrict.

    There needs to be a purposeful discussion about this. The public, lawmakers, and law enforcement bodies need to have a dialogue. The current laws are sitting in a grey area. Nobody is perfectly sure what is right and wrong.

    Perhaps (and this is just a thought, certainly not my defined opinion) the law should centre around two-way sight reliant devices.

    It is, of course obvious, that driving relies on many senses. However, sight is the most important. Distracting one’s glance from the road is the most dangerous.

    A device that displays contextual dialogue (which requires concentration unrelated to the act of driving), may very well distract a driver. Especially if that driver knows that she/he has the ability to respond. However, glancing at a GPS display may not be as distracting.

    There is a lot to think about here. I just hope it is thought about properly before unfair laws are passed, or people are put in harm’s way.

    So many things to THINK about. I hope we all (individuals and governments alike) do.

  • K3

    Bluetooth would be covering hands free devices for communication not

    other electronics connecting to a main device that can create just as many small occurrences of momentary distraction as that main device itself.

    If he’s behind the wheel and currently playing with it while travelling…… ??????????

  • David Ranson

    Actually using “Hey Siri” the watch is totally hands free for some functions…

  • I would say even in-car systems like CarPlay could be seen as distracting. Gone are the days of just inserting CDs or switching radio stations. Now, we have so many devices we can interact with. Keep your head up people!

  • gerry

    Any technology you have or built into the vehicle involving multimedia can be a distraction. I see too many people sitting at green lights still fondling with the gadget they have inside their vehicle haha. (I added some humour their) 😀

  • aaloo

    The question is whether he was just looking at it, for example seeing the time or just glancing at a notification, or was he actually interacting with it with his other hand. If he was doing the latter, then the ticket is absolutely just and valid.

  • Christopher Arthur Hicks

    He must not have been doing it discreetly… Apple Watch interactions are much easier to hide, and he completely could & should fight the ticket. Even if he was watching videos on the watch since the law is not clear he should not be charged…technicalities for the win, if they want to start charging people they need to update the laws.

  • That part yes, but when I try to reply to a message, I still have to physically press that send button. So it is technically hands free for many features, however there’s still points in time where it still requires human interaction. You do raise a good point though.

  • Tim

    Just stay off of your electronic sh*t while operating a 2000 pound death machine and we won’t have problems.

  • Morpheus

    If you can’t unplug long enough to operate a vehicle, or you can’t walk across across the street without a selfie stick, then take the blue pill and stay in your pod.

  • hub2

    “when I try to reply to a message, I still have to physically press that send button”

    No you don’t. If you’re using Hey Siri, the after you’ve composed your message, Siri actually reads it back to you, then asks if you want to send it, you say yes, and she sends it.

  • Eric

    so can i tape my phone to my wrist and use it? nope.. same with a watch

  • OpinionMTL

    You can’t do this with an Apple Watch

  • So true

  • Long live the selfie stick!

  • It is possible on Apple Watch, just not widely known at this point (reminds me to write a quick post about this).

    “Hey Siri, message John Appleseed hey how’s it going?”

    **Siri shows the message ready to send on the screen, showing Cancel/Send prompt**

    “Hey Siri, send”

    **message sends**

    Try it!

  • Chrome262

    Since there are so many smart watches how the hell will they know if you are just checking your watch?

  • Adam

    If a cop, in a moving vehicle behind you, was able to tell you were playing with your watch instead of paying attention to the road, then yeah, you probably were distracted enough to deserve a fine and penalty.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Two points:

    1. He says he was just changing songs, which isn’t that different than doing it from your steering wheel controls or dashboard. Seems equally safe to me.

    2. From the comments, a lot of people think that talking hands-free while driving is safer than holding the the phone. It’s not. Google it if you don’t believe me. Think of someone driving manual while talking hands free. Is that more or less safe than just holding the phone and driving automatic? Its the same. Equally unsafe. That’s what the stats say. (again, just google it) Just because politicians and lawmakers are ignorant of science, statistics and the real world and tell us that hands-free is safe doesn’t mean it’s true.

  • That’s composing a message, I said reply. 😉

    I do understand what you’re saying, I’m however speaking on how it may be represented in a legal argument.

  • Find Me

    Replying is all hands free as well… I have text conversations with my wife and never touch my phone.

  • Yes, it’s great on the phone, however my watch requires me to hit that little send button when sending the reply, if you’re not using the “hey Siri, send text to ____” for every reply.

  • Amen. It’s not holding the phone that causes distraction, it’s the conversation. When I tell people this, the usual response is “but but but what about talking to a passenger in the same car?” The passenger can see that you’re at a railroad crossing and will shut up while you look both ways, and even look themselves. The person on the other end of the phone keeps right on talking, oblivious.

  • Find Me

    “Hey Siri… Read my messages” “Hey Siri, reply to my message” dictate message… “send”

  • Yes, now do that on your watch, it wants to handoff to your phone. We’re talking about the Apple Watch my friend, let’s stay on topic 😉

  • Peter Pottinger

    He basically admits his guilt by saying he was operating the device.

  • Sean Matthew

    They just have to release sound proof driver seat cages in the cars this way the driver woudn t have any discractions at all lol

  • Inside a Faraday cage

  • Sean Matthew

    Actually siri does nor read to you it shows on the watch cause siri can t speak on apple watch which piss me off