A Saanich mom received a hefty distracted driving ticket on New Year’s Eve day and her lawyer says it’s invalid.
Brittney Taylor, a psychology student at the University of Victoria and single mom, came to a stop at a red light near the intersection of Shelbourne Street and McKenzie Avenue around 2 p.m. on Dec. 31 and touched her cell phone – which she said was “securely mounted” on her dash – to change the song.
ANOTHER case of police officers not understanding the cell phone law. She was ticketed for violating a license restriction when she has a Class 5 license, and therefore no electronic device restriction.— Kyla Lee (@IRPlawyer) January 1, 2020
This officer needs better education and the ticket should be cancelled. https://t.co/wyTXCUtDpB
Taylor was stopped by an officer from the Capital Regional District Integrated Traffic Safety Unit who asked her to pull over. The officer explained that Taylor would be issued a $368 ticket for “scrolling” on her phone and four demerit points on her licence for a total of $578. She said the officer explained that if she’d simply been answering the phone, she’d have been allowed to press up to 10 buttons.
Taylor pointed out that her driving record was “completely clean” before the incident. She’s been driving for more than 10 years with no issues and always making sure to wear a seatbelt, drive the speed limit and keep her cell phone mounted on her dash.
“He gave me the ticket after checking my record and specifically saying how my record was immaculate with no priors,” Taylor said, noting she’d been in tears over the cost of the ticket.“I’m a struggling student that goes to the food bank monthly and tries to keep a roof over my daughter’s head.”
Taylor’s father, who was in the passenger seat at the time, asked the officer why she wasn’t receiving a warning as she had a clean driving record. The officer told them that there’s “grey area” in the distracted driving laws and that Taylor could dispute the fine in court.
After the incident, Taylor took to Twitter to voice her anger and Vancouver-based Immediate Roadside Prohibition lawyer Kyla Lee replied.
Lee wrote that the ticket should be cancelled because it was issued for violating a Class 7 restriction – use of an electronic device while driving – under the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) which doesn’t apply to Taylor’s Class 5 license.
“The entire ticket itself is invalid and the information the officer gave her is wrong,” Lee told Saanich News.
She noted that according to the MVA, there is zero-tolerance for use of electronic devices for N and L drivers with a Class 7 license. However, drivers with a full licence – Class 5 – are allowed to use a device for calls as long as it’s mounted to the dash and either voice-activated or can be answered with one touch.
Lee emphasized that the lack of clarity surrounding the law is the reason people end up violating it or getting ticketed incorrectly.
“This grey area of distracted driving needs to be immediately addressed,” Taylor said.
After speaking with Lee – who feels she’s one of the few people who fully understand the law as she’s been over it hundreds of times – Taylor decided to dispute the ticket.
Lee pointed out that the legislation would need to be amended by the B.C. government, but doesn’t see that happening any time soon. For now, she’s happy to act as a resource for people struggling to navigate the regulations and is open to calls and messages through Twitter and Instagram.