Using an electronic device while driving in B.C. can net you a $368 fine. (Pixabay photo)

Using an electronic device while driving in B.C. can net you a $368 fine. (Pixabay photo)

B.C. judge tosses ‘N’ driver’s claim he was just using phone to decline his mom’s call

Distracted driving laws are more strict for Class 7, or Novice drivers, the judge noted

A young driver has been ordered to pay a distracted driving ticket after failing to argue to a B.C. judge that he was only using his phone to ignore a call from his mother.

According to the decision made in provincial court in Port Coquitlam Tuesday, Hao Bin Tang was driving on Barnet Highway in Port Moody in January when he was pulled over for speeding by a police officer who was using a radar detector curb-side.

The officer, who is not named in the court documents, told the judge that he approached the passenger side of the vehicle within seconds of the stop and saw Tang in the driver’s seat holding his lit-up cellphone in both hands with his head down.

He asked for Tang’s license and discovered he was a Class 7 or “Novice” driver, which meant he was under an electronic device restriction, the court heard. The officer issued Tang a $368 ticket for using an electronic device.

But Tang, who was born in 2000, told the judge he wasn’t using his phone while the vehicle was in motion.

“As a very educated and sane person I would definitely not have taken out my cell phone unless it was parked,” Tang said. “My mother was calling me.”

ALSO READ: Eating cereal, trimming nose hairs – it’s all illegal while driving

In order to turn off the call, Tang said, he pulled his car over and shut off the call, before returning it back to “the secure location” that it was in.

Justice Shusheela Joseph-Tiwary, who noted that Tang was “somewhat guarded on the stand,” wasn’t buying it.

Exactly how far cellphone restriction laws can go when it comes to penalizing distracted drivers have been put to the test several times over the last year. In March, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled that the mere presence of a cell phone within sight of a driver is not enough for a conviction.

Vancouver police cancelled a distracted driving ticket against a Lower Mainland senior after her son took to social media to show his mom’s phone was sitting in her cupholder when the officer gave her the fine.

READ MORE: Police cancel $368 ticket given to B.C. senior for having cellphone in cupholder

But in this incident, given his Class 7 driving status, Tang wasn’t allowed to use a phone while driving – even if it were to be used hands free, Joseph-Tiwary said, noting that modern cellphones give plenty of options to be alerted to messages without directly looking at the phone screen.

“Mr. Tang had the ability to not only receive calls and messages on his active phone, but to also monitor activity to determine who was calling as he drove on the highway prior to his coming to a stop,” Joseph-Tiwary continued. “Simply leaving the phone turned on within the vehicle, say, in the console area is sufficient to facilitate access to the information on the phone.”

Joseph-Tiwary added that she isn’t suggesting “N” drivers are prohibited from physically having a cell phone in their car all together and are allowed to use them in a case of emergency or when parked, as laid out in the Motor Vehicle Act regulations. However, “incoming calls and information on the device operating within the vehicle poses a source of distraction.”

Tang was ordered to pay the fine.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Most Read