B.C. Judge Rules Having Phone ‘Within Sight’ No Longer Constitutes Distracted Driving

A recent ruling in a B.C. courtroom has set a new precedent for how distracted driving laws will be enforced across the province.

According to a new report from CBC News, a recent ruling by a B.C. Supreme Court judge overturning a conviction for one local driver could be a game changer, after arguing having a phone in plain sight doesn’t count as distracted driving.

“This case is important because there was a real lack of clarity in the law and inconsistency in judgments from traffic court,” said Vancouver-based criminal lawyer Kyla Lee, who represented in the case.

“Some justices were saying that you had to have it affixed to the vehicle, some were saying loose in the vehicle is totally fine. Police officers were inconsistently enforcing [distracted driving rules].”

According to Lee, police no longer have the ability to ticket drivers who have their mobile phones visible in the vehicle but not touching them. In other words, it’s now okay for drivers to place their cellphones in say, a cup holder or on the passenger seat, while driving.

A spokesperson for the B.C. RCMP’s traffic services said that distracted driving tickets will now only be written for drivers who are “using” their cell phone — simply having it in the car no longer warrants a ticket.

A distracted driving ticket currently costs $368 CAD for a first infraction, plus a one-time $210 CAD insurance premium and four penalty points on the driving record.

Distracted driving remains a problem throughout B.C. and throughout Canada. Recently, one B.C. driver was slapped with $1,800 in distracted driving fines in just six minutes.