Seconds of handling phone lands $275 fine for man driving in Kelowna | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Seconds of handling phone lands $275 fine for man driving in Kelowna

Just holding your phone while driving is illegal.
Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
October 11, 2019 - 10:12 AM

Despite having his cellphone in hand for no more than 10 seconds, a Saskatchewan man was forced to drive back to Kelowna courts where he was found guilty of distracted driving.

A recent provincial court ruling upheld the ticket issued to Brenton Klause who was driving from Victoria to Saskatchewan in April, 2019.

He had stopped at Value Village in West Kelowna and said he was using his phone’s GPS function to navigate to the Kelowna Value Village store. The phone was in the console of his van and fell out when he had to slam on his brakes suddenly as he drove along Highway 97 near Richter St.

Traffic was stopped on the highway when he picked it up and put it back, holding it for no more than 10 seconds, he told the court. That was long enough to be spotted by a police officer, who issued a ticket.

Klause drove from Saskatchewan to Kelowna for the Sept. 18 hearing where he contested the ticket, arguing he was not using the phone since he was not phoning or texting on the device.

The law does allow a person to use a GPS system – either a separate unit or through a cell phone – while driving but only if “it is securely fixed to the motor vehicle and in a manner that does not obstruct the driver's view of the front or sides of the motor vehicle or interfere with the safety or operating equipment of the motor vehicle.”

It also must be “programmed before the person begins to drive or operate the motor vehicle,” unless it can be voice-activated.

Klause’s conviction was based on earlier rulings that “a person with a device in hand was holding it in the position which it may be used,” which is against the law.

And, being stopped in traffic doesn’t help as courts have ruled that being stopped “is still part of the act of driving and operating a motor vehicle.”

Klause was given to the end of October to pay a $275 fine.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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