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?