CASE LAW - R v Shelford
Tania Shelford is a company driver whose vehicle is equipped with a two way mobile radio that allows her to contact her dispatcher. She was using that radio to acknowledge the end of her shift when she was observed by an RCMP officer who stopped her and issued a traffic ticket for distracted driving. She disputed the ticket.
At trial, she testified that the two way voice radio was hard wired and attached securely to her vehicle. She had used the radio often enough that she could retrieve and hang up the microphone without having to look at it. The mic was mounted in a convienient spot within easy reach.
She produced a copy of RoadSafetyBC's document Use of Electronic Devices While Driving that summarizes approved use of the radio. This document is no longer published by RoadSafetyBC and has been replaced by a web page of instructions.
The judicial justice convicted Ms. Shelford who subsequently appealed that conviction. The matter was heard by Mr. Justice Schultes who found that the justice erred and her appeal of the conviction must be allowed.
Ms. Shelford argued that her mobile radio is not considered to be a hand microphone. Justice Shultes agreed and observed that this radio was not defined as an electronic device in section 214.1 MVA.
Of interest to amateur (ham) radio users and others who use portable (hand held) radios, these devices do fall under the definition of hand microphone and may only be used while driving if they are securely attached to the driver's person or vehicle in a position that is convenient to use. In addition, only the push and hold to talk function may be used and operation of any other control for the radio while driving is prohibited.