Q&A - Ticketed for Using Cell Phone When Engine was Off

Q&A ImageI was handed a traffic violation ticket today for 'use of electronic device when driving", however I was stopped in traffic in the right-most lane, and the engine to my vehicle was off due to a Start/Stop feature that shuts my engine down every time my car comes to a complete stop (for fuel efficiency purposes). There is no ignition slot for my key either, and my key was in my pocket at the time (I heard from some friends that a ticket could still be issued even when the engine is turned off, as long as the key is still left in the ignition, not sure if this is true).

I was wondering how likely my case would hold up in traffic court, as I assume it is not illegal to use an electronic device when the vehicle is parked with the engine turned off.

Comments

Answer

My brother-in-law's Mercedes does this too. It seems strange when you drive it.

The Law:

Prohibition against use of electronic device while driving

214.2  (1) A person must not use an electronic device while driving or operating a motor vehicle on a highway.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), a person must not communicate by means of an electronic device with another person or another device by electronic mail or other text-based message.

Exceptions to prohibition — certain permitted activities

214.4  Section 214.2 does not apply to a person who uses an electronic device

(a) while operating a motor vehicle that is safely parked off the roadway or lawfully parked on the roadway and is not impeding traffic,

My take on this is that the court will find that you were operating a vehicle and were neither parked off the roadway nor legally parked on the roadway and convict you of the offence. Operate means controlling the function of a machine, which you are doing.

It would be an interesting point to raise in traffic court and if you do try, come back and let us know how you made out.

Thanks for your help Tim! I

Thanks for your help Tim! I will definitely update this post if I do end up going to court.

It's an odd feature, but I noticed more and more car manufacturers are adopting the auto on/off to meet increasingly stricter emissions regulations.. It would be interesting if this case did win in court, setting precedence for other cases in the future (however, based on the information you have highlighted I think it is quite unlikely).

I tried to find the definition of "operating a motor vehicle" but could not find too much information. It seems like a very broad description.. Not sure if it would be fruitful to argue over semantics, or if the JJP will just get annoyed.

You Never Know.

Some JJP's can be quite erratic in their decision making. You won't know until you try. Besides, isn't arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin a lawyer's job? :-)

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