Q&A - Ticketed for Non-Operational Cell Phone

Q&A ImageI was pulled over recently for the use of electronic devices. The cell phone is damaged and was not operational but I still got a ticket. I needed a help how I can dispute the ticket.

I asked for a few specifics in order to try and answer this. The OP supplied further information:

That belonged to my fiance. I dropped her at Metrotown and was heading for a soccer game. She was planning on fixing it (i can get a letter from Fido confirming that it was not working) but she left it in my car. I noticed it while i was stopped behind the red light. That was the moment that the officer pulled me over. I told the officer that i can not even use the phone for music playing but he issued the ticket.

I noticed it when i stopped behind the red light. I hold for a few seconds, checking its broken screen, nothing more. If it does not work, is it still electronic device? I see it as any other object in the car.

its basically dead and the screen even does not come up. I will not fix it and i am planning to take it to the court with a letter from fido confirming that it has not been used from couple of month ago.

The crux of the matter is not the fact that the cell phone does not work, rather the definition of "use."

"use", in relation to an electronic device, means one or more of the following actions:

(a) holding the device in a position in which it may be used;

(b) operating one or more of the device's functions;

(c) communicating orally by means of the device with another person or another device;

(d) taking another action that is set out in the regulations by means of, with or in relation to an electronic device.

If we focus on (a), there is no need to actually use the device, merely holding it in a position that would allow you to use it is forbidden. From that, technically speaking, the ticket appears to be a valid one based on the circumstances that you have related.

I have checked, but still not convinced. If a phone is dead, how it can be "use"d? And why it is still subject to use of "electronic device"?

If you can convince the justice hearing your dispute that a broken cell phone is not an electronic device then that may be the way you want to proceed.

Even though it is broken, it is still an electronic device and the law does not require that you actually use it, merely that you held it in a manner that it might be used.

Maybe you could argue that there is no possible manner in which one could hold this particular device where it could be used as it is in an 'unusable' state.

In reply to by DamnIHateThat

But sooner or later, people gotta realize that they can't touch a phone when they're behind the wheel (unless safely parked).

I have no problem with that.

You never know when you might get hit by some whacko in a traffic circle, who doesn't comprehend right of way. cool

The writer about the cell phone is missing the point of DriveSmartBC.

This is a blog site to create safer and better drivers (my perception). It is not a site on how to beat traffic tickets.

Good habits start with small steps. Being stopped at a red light and picking up a cellphone (albeit broken and not working) is not a good driving habit.

Yes the writer could likely challenge the ticket and win as regardless of how he held the phone, it would not be in a position “where it could function”.

It is a cheap lesson in a sense to pay the fine and become more diligent about driving habits. Driving is much like a marriage or work. It takes daily focus to create good and positive habits that improve and sustain our work, marriage or driving ability.

Just my random thoughts.

Is not the point of this legislation to reduce the numbers of drivers who permit themselves to be distracted while in the care and control of a motor vehicle?

Certainly distractions come in all different forms. Some are more pervasive than others and the use of cell phones especially when texting, is deadly. As such, the law enforcement people have been given instructions to use every means possible to get people to leave the damn cell phones alone.

But think about it. Are you 100% attentive to your driving at all times? No, you're not .... because we as humans cannot be so. A sneeze, letting your mind wander, a glance in the back seat .... or a nice body on the sidewalk, eating, grooming, a conversation with someone in the car ..... the list goes on.  ALL of these are distractions and every one has taken you away from the job at hand. They all have the potential to cause a problem.

Aside from the documented fact that 90% of us believe that our driving is above average, have you never caught yourself being inattentive?  Of course, most of these go un-noticed especially for those that are a split second long .... but they DID impair your ability.

Sadly, our society seems to need "nanny laws" to penalise us for our own stupidity.

I am fighting a ticket next week on the same sort of principle. I moved the phone from my back pocket to the seat as it was uncomfortable It is a Mexican cell (I live there 7 months a year) blocked for local calling and only good for  calling 911 (I dont think you can text 911, so it it was nowhere near my face, its obvious it can't be used). The cop refused to look at it. I may hand it to the judge to let him see its non functional, he only has to try to make a call on it to see it is not.  Who knows. My main argument is that the cop refused to look at it and I felt i was denied my right to defend myself. I fully agree with penalties for using a cell, but its getting a bit ridiculous. Its more dangerous to adjust the time on your watch and i do not think there is any problem with that while at a red light.


Anyway good luck. i will post here on what happens to me next week.