How I would write BC’s distracted driving law

There has been a great deal of confusion, yet again, over British Columbia’s distracted driving law. In an effort to make the law more clear, I recently suggested that I would spend my next free weekend writing out a new version of the law for the government.

Since I’m a woman of my word, I did it. I spent a Friday night, writing what I hope is a sensible and comprehensible version of the law.

Follow the jump below to read what I would have written, if I wrote the law. And I fully invite the government to borrow what I have written and amend the legislation accordingly. As you will see, what I have written is undeniably clear and answers questions that have led to confusion for drivers, police officers, and the courts.

Let me know in the comments what you think.

Definitions

214.1 In this part

“electronic device” means

  1. a hand-held cellular telephone or another hand-held electronic device that includes a telephone function,
  2. a hand-held electronic device that is capable of transmitting or receiving electronic mail or other text-based messages,
  3. a Global Positioning Unit,
  4. a portable music player,
  5. a laptop or portable computer,
  6. a calculator,
  7. a portable camera or video or audio recording equipment, or
  8. a prescribed class or type of electronic device;
but does not include
  1. a portable insulin pump,
  2. a portable device designed to measure blood sugar levels in diabetic persons, or
  3. a portable device designed to perform a medical function, and which use of is medically necessary.

Prohibition on Use of Electronic Device While Driving

214.2 (1) A person must not do any of the following with an electronic device while operating a motor vehicle on a highway:

  1. communicate by means of an electronic device with another person or another device by electronic mail or other text-based message,
  2. communicate by voice by means of an electronic device with another person or another device,
  3. operate any of the functions of the device, including word processing, video, photographic, or audio recording, mathematical functions, or
  4. hold, touch, or handle the device in any way;

except while making a telephone call or sending a message to emergency services personnel.

(2) Section 214.2(1) does not apply in respect of a cellular telephone, if the following conditions are met:

  1. the cellular telephone is securely affixed to the vehicle or the driver’s person,
  2. the cellular telephone is affixed in such a manner that it does not obstruct the driver’s view out the windshield or any of the windows of the vehicle,
  3. the cellular telephone is affixed in such a manner that it does not interfere with the driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle, and
  4. the cellular telephone is operated exclusively using voice commands, or with only one touch to initiate, accept, or end a voice call.

(3) Section 214.2(1) does not apply in respect of a Global Positioning Unit, if the following conditions are met:

  1. the Global Positioning Unit is securely affixed to the vehicle,
  2. the Global Positioning Unit is affixed in such a manner that it does not obstruct the driver’s view out the windshield or any of the windows of the vehicle,
  3. the Global Positioning Unit is affixed in such a manner that it does not interfere with the driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle, and
  4. the Global Positioning Unit is programmed with directions prior to the driver operating the vehicle on a highway, and the driver does not touch the Global Positioning Unit while operating the vehicle.

(4) Section 214.2(1) does not apply in respect of a portable music player, if the following conditions are met:

  1. the portable music player is securely affixed to the vehicle,
  2. the portable music player is affixed in such a manner that it does not obstruct the driver’s view out the windshield or any of the windows of the vehicle,
  3. the portable music player is affixed in such a manner that it does not interfere with the driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle,
  4. the portable music player plays the music or audio through the speakers of the vehicle, and
  5. the driver does not touch the portable music player while operating the vehicle.

(5) Section 214.2(1) does not apply in respect of photographic, audio, or video recording devices, if the following conditions are met:

  1. the device is designed to be mounted to the dashboard of the vehicle;
  2. the device is affixed in such a manner that it does not obstruct the driver’s view out the windshield or any of the windows of the vehicle,
  3. the device is affixed in such a manner that it does not interfere with the driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle,
  4. the device is continuously recording or is activated to record or photograph with only one touch, except in an emergency or to record a traffic event.

(6) For greater clarity, a “traffic event” is the following:

  1. a violation of this Act, its Regulations, or the Criminal Code,
  2. a motor vehicle collision, or
  3. any other incident on the highway which it is in the public interest to create a record of by means of the device.

(7) Sections 214.2(1) to 214.2(6) do not apply in respect of an electronic device that is immobilized in the following circumstances

  1. the electronic device is no longer operable,
  2. the electronic device is disabled by way of an app or programming that prevents it from functioning, or
  3. the electronic device does not have any power, including battery or solar power.

(8) In a trial for a contravention of Section 214.2(1), the onus of proving that the electronic device is immobilized as defined in Section 214.2(7) is on the accused.
(9) A person who contravenes 214.2(1) commits and offence.

Exceptions to prohibition — emergency personnel

214.3   Section 214.2(1) does not apply to the following persons who use an electronic device while carrying out their powers, duties or functions:

  1. a peace officer;
  2. a person driving or operating an ambulance as defined in the Emergency Health Services Act;
  3. fire services personnel as defined in the Fire Services Act.

Exceptions to prohibition — by regulation

214.4   Section 214.2(1) does not apply to

  1. a prescribed class of persons who, while carrying out their powers, duties or functions and driving or operating a motor vehicle or a prescribed class of motor vehicle, use an electronic device or a prescribed class or type of electronic device,
  2. a person who uses an electronic device while engaged in a prescribed activity or in circumstances or under conditions set out in the regulations, or
  3. a person who uses a prescribed class or type of electronic device.

When installation of an electronic device is not required

214.6   (1) An electronic device is not required to be securely affixed to the vehicle if the following conditions are met

  1. the electronic device is not being used for any purpose, including but not limited to voice, text, music, or global positioning,
  2. the driver does not touch or hold the electronic device in any way, and
  3. the electronic device is not located in a place that poses any risk of interfering with the safe operation of the vehicle if the vehicle came to a sudden stop or was involved in a collision.


(2) For greater clarity, an electronic device is located in a position that complies with 214.6(1) if it is located

  1. in a vehicle cup holder,
  2. on a passenger seat of the vehicle, or
  3. In the centre console or glove compartment of the vehicle;

but the electronic device is not required to be located in those places, provided the conditions in 214.6(1) are otherwise met.

Power to make regulations

214.6   The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations as follows:

  1. prescribing classes or types of electronic devices for the purposes of paragraph (c) of the definition of “electronic device” in section 214.1;
  2. setting out actions for the purposes of paragraph (d) of the definition of “use” in section 214.1;
  3. for the purposes of section 214.4 (c), setting out the manner in which, or the extent to which, a hands-free electronic device may be used in a telephone function;
  4. for the purposes of section 214.5;
  5. regulating the installation or mounting of classes or types of electronic devices in motor vehicles;
  6. exempting or excluding, with or without conditions, classes or types of electronic devices, classes of persons or classes of vehicles or classes of persons while driving or operating a motor vehicle or class of motor vehicle from the operation of a provision of this Part.

And there you have it. I hope that I’ve provided a clear and easy-to-understand distracted driving law. And if the provincial government wants to completely steal this to amend the legislation, I do not mind.

Frankly, I’d be glad to see the law written in a way that just makes sense.

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