CASE LAW - R v Tannhauser

BC Courts Coat of ArmsThis is the case of the cell phone app that helped a driver beat a traffic ticket for using a cellular phone while driving. Patrick Tannhauser was driving on the Trans Canada Highway approaching the Helmcken overpass in View Royal. He was stuck in what is known locally as the "Colwood Crawl" at 8:35 am. Mr. Tannhauser was holding his company issued cell phone at the top of the steering wheel.

The Capital Regional District Integrated Road Safety Unit was operating a check for phone use with an observer near the overpass. He observed the cell phone, radioed the pickup team and Mr. Tannhauser was flagged over and issued a violation ticket.

The company that Mr. Tannhauser worked for had installed an app on the cellphone that prevented it from being used when it was in motion.

He disputed the ticket on the ground that he was not using the device within the meaning of the legislation because the app prevented him from doing so.

Judicial Justice Gordon agreed and dismissed the charge.

In a later case, Mehrzad Movassaghi tried to use this decision as a defence at his trial. Judicial Justice Adair ruled that Judicial Justice Gordon's interpretation of simply holding the device as not being ‘in a position in which it may be used’ was not correct and convicted Mr. Movassaghi.

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