Phone disabling software while driving not a distracted driving defence

Some Phone disabling software while driving apps are available

The defences available to you if you use a phone while driving grow thinner ever day. You may have heard about phone disabling software you can use while driving. In fact, ICBC even tested an app that would block the use of hand-held devices while driving. The question is: is such software a valid defence to distracted driving?

The B.C. Court of Appeal recently ruled that having phone disabling software is not a defence against use of an electronic device while driving.

Weird and Wacky Wednesdays: Volume 104

This week on Weird and Wacky Wednesdays, we look at a rash of public-sex crimes. Apparently the requirement for social distancing has left people more than a little horny, as they can’t keep their hands off each other until they are out of public.

And what would Weird and Wacky Wednesdays be without a Florida man? This week, we look at a case involving a Florida man who was a little too arrogant in his livestreaming.

Follow the jump to read more of this week’s weird and wacky legal cases.

Having phone on or near lap is distracted driving again

Another court dived into the murky waters that are B.C.’s distracted driving laws. This time it was the B.C. Supreme Court which ruled having your phone on or near your lap constitutes distracted driving.

It comes only a few months after a B.C. provincial court decision determined that having a phone resting on or near your lap while driving was not against the law.

This latest Supreme Court ruling contradicts the previous decision, establishing that it is, in fact, against the law.

Is having a phone on or near your lap distracted driving?

What constitutes distracted driving has been interpreted many different ways, thanks in part to the ambiguous wording of the legislation in B.C. Section 214.1 of the Motor Vehicle Act defines “use” 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.

The issue at the heart of cases like these is what exactly “holding” means.

Is having a phone on your lap “holding”?

According to this provincial court decision from February this year, having a phone on your lap is not  the same as holding. The defendant as charged after an officer saw her with her driving with her phone plugged and sitting on her lap. The screen was not illuminated and she was not touching the device.

The judicial justice stated: “Resting a device on the lap simply as a resting place, as opposed to the ability to grasp it is not a meaning of hold in its grammatical and ordinary sense.” The distracted driving ticket was dismissed.

Supreme Court verdict

In the above the B.C. Supreme Court verdict, Zahir Rajani appealed against his conviction for use of an electronic device while driving on similar grounds. A police officer testified that he saw Mr. Rajani looking down at his lap while driving. On closer inspection he said he had a cell phone on his lap with the screen facing up. The screen was not illuminated.

Mr. Rajani said the phone was wedged between his right thigh and the chair.

The Supreme Court judge ruled that even if it was wedged between his thigh and the chair, the phone was being supported in a way in which it could be used.

The judge said: “The fact that Mr. Rajani’s leg placement would have impacted the phone’s position supports a conclusion that it was being “held” for the purposes of this provision.”

I know what you’re thinking. You have to use your hand to hold something. Not according to the judge who said:

“To interpret “holding” as being restricted to an action done with one’s hands is is not in harmony with the scheme of the distracted driving provisions of the MVA. Such an interpretation would allow drivers to operate their vehicles with electronic devices in their laps, between their thighs, tucked under their arms or chins, or supported by other parts of their bodies.

So there you have it. You can hold a phone with your lap. At least until the next distracted driving decision.

Weird and Wacky Wednesdays: Volume 103

How does a chain of arts and crafts chain become embroiled in an international artefact smuggling conspiracy? Can a court actually decide if being gay is a sin? And what crimes can you commit with a watermelon? These are all questions that will be answered in this edition of Weird and Wacky Wednesday.

If you’re curious to find the solutions to these mysteries, follow the jump. …

Traffic Court Starts Again June 1, 2020… But is the Court Ready?


That’s what we’ve heard so far from the BC Provincial Court when it comes to safety measures that will be put in place in traffic court as of June 1, 2020.

On April 30, 2020, the BC Provincial Court updated its pandemic response procedures and adjourned most court appearances until after July 3, 2020. But one set of court appearances was only pushed forward a few weeks: traffic court. At first, when I heard the news, I thought it would be inevitable that it would be pushed forward again, or that we would hear a plan for traffic court in the coming days.

But we’re now halfway through May and the BC Provincial Court has not released any information about what is going to happen in traffic court in the coming weeks. 

It’s Time to Allow Liquor on Vancouver Beaches

Yesterday, a story was published on News1130 indicating that Vancouver City Councillor Christine Boyle is submitting a proposal to allow for liquor on Vancouver’s beaches. And I think that it’s about time we had change in this regard.

Councillor Boyle’s proposal is based in the importance of ensuring that people who want to have social drinks with friends are able to do so in a manner that protects them from the spread of COVID-19. As she sees it, the more people that live in apartments, the less opportunity for safe social distancing and alcohol consumption.

And, frankly, I agree. It is high time we eliminate this unnecessary ban.

Weird and Wacky Wednesdays: Volume One Hundred Two

This week on Weird and Wacky Wednesdays, we look at a blast from the past case that has resurfaced again. It involves a police raid on a suspected cannabis grow operation… that turned out to be anything but. Then, we examine some struggles around the language of “takeout only” in a McDonald’s restaurant. And, finally, we land a little closer to home with a city bylaw that is not clowning around.

Follow the jump to read this week’s roundup of weird and wacky legal cases from around the globe.

Going to Jail for Driving While Prohibited

jail for driving while prohibited

One of the questions I am asked most frequently by clients who are charged with driving while prohibited is whether they can go to jail for driving while prohibited.

And, depending on the circumstances, a driving while prohibited charge in British Columbia can result in a jail sentence. So it is important to consult with a lawyer and understand whether you are at risk of going to jail, and in what circumstances a jail sentence can be imposed.

How to Dispute a Ticket in BC and Win

Traffic tickets in British Columbia can have serious consequences. From driver penalty points, to driver risk premiums, the consequences of a ticket are often a lot more than what is printed on the face of the ticket. After all, even one ticket may trigger a driving prohibition depending on your circumstances. 

And that’s why I am often asked by people for tips about how to dispute a ticket in BC and win. And while I think the best way to successfully dispute a ticket is to hire competent and experienced legal representation, the reality is that not everyone retains a lawyer. And, bear in mind, that no one and no strategy in traffic court can guarantee your success. The reality is that there is no surefire pathway to winning a ticket dispute.

But here are some useful tips that might help you to dispute a ticket in BC and win.

Weird and Wacky Wednesdays: Volume One Hundred and One

This week on Weird and Wacky Wednesdays, we look at what can happen when Star Wars Day goes horribly awry. Then, we examine the case of a Florida lawyer who came up with a creative way to spread the word about pandemic danger. Finally, we examine a complaint about a conflict of interest that was actually really just a dispute over a parking stall.

Follow the jump to learn more about this week’s weirdest and wackiest legal cases from around the globe. …

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