The use of handheld devices while driving is banned in British Columbia. In this blog post, I will focus specifically on the use of electronic devices while driving, not on other forms of distraction, such as eating or talking with other passengers.
Using an electronic device while driving can lead to a ticket of $368 and 4 penalty points, which amounts to $175, leading to a total fine of $543.
Part 3.1 – Use of Electronic Devices While Driving in the Motor Vehicle Act, RSBC 1996, c. 318 sets out the specific rules and prohibitions.
Even holding a phone in your hand without speaking or texting can lead to a distracted driving ticket, as noted in a 2018 BC Provincial Court case, R. v. Bainbridge, 2018 BCPC 101. Furthermore, charging a phone at a red light is also considered distracted driving (R. v. Jahani, 2017 BCSC 745).
You are not allowed to use hand-held cellphones and other electronic devices with transmitting functions while driving. Under section 214.1 of the Motor Vehicle Act, electronic devices are defined as:
(a) a hand-held cellular telephone or another hand-held electronic device that includes a telephone function,
(b) a hand-held electronic device that is capable of transmitting or receiving electronic mail or other text-based messages, or
(c) a prescribed class or type of electronic device
Use of electronic devices is defined as:
(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.
You are allowed to use your device in hands-free mode, such as with a Bluetooth headset or with the integrated speaker function in a vehicle. However, if you have an L (Learner’s) or N (Novice) licence, then you are not allowed to use the device at all, even in hands-free mode. There are certain exceptions for emergency personnel.
According to the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), distracted driving involving a cellphone can increase your chance of a crash by 8 times.
Using electronic devices while driving can not only lead to a violation ticket and penalty points, but also liability if you are involved in a car accident. It can also prevent you from successfully suing the other party.
In the case of Rollins v. Lovely, 2007 BCSC 1752, the defendant was looking down at his ringing cell phone, and liability was apportioned to him at 90%.
In the case of Shaver v. Lymbery, 2012 BCSC 978, the plaintiff sued for soft tissue injuries she suffered in an accident. However, she was unsuccessful in proving liability, as she was using her cellphone during the accident.
Contact Peter Unruh, Personal Injury Lawyer in BC
If you have been injured in a car accident, Peter Unruh will review your case to determine if you should be compensated beyond ICBC Part 7 benefits for your injuries. The extent of your injuries and fault for the collision needs to be assessed in order to arrive at whether you have a personal injury case for compensation. Call Peter Unruh today, personal injury lawyer in Abbotsford, at 604-746-4357.