Siri a winner in Nova Scotia courts

Canadian provinces continue to struggle with the specifics of their distracted driving laws. In the latest case, in Nova Scotia, the Supreme Court sided with a motorist who was ticketed for using the Siri feature on an iPhone to ask for directions. The high court ruled in late October 2015 that employing the voice-activated navigational system did not constitute "use" of the cell phone, which would be illegal. Justice Jamie Campbell said the related wording in the Nova Scotia's Motor Vehicle Act was so simple as to be unclear and behind the times. He said other provinces were more … [Read more...]

Ontario distracted driving fine near $500

Fines for Ontario drivers who plead guilty to distracted driving now begin at $490, with three demerit points. Technically, the distracted driving fines that can be imposed by a judge range from $300 to $1,000 under a law that took effect Sept. 1. The set $490 fine is for drivers who plead guilty. (It includes victim fine surcharges and court fees.) Those who are convicted also receive the points vs. the driver's license. Most distracted drivers in Ontario will receive that punishment. The update to the Highway Traffic Act -- approved by lawmakers June 2 -- is the work of transportation … [Read more...]

Canadians to distracted drivers: Enough

Manitoba has joined Ontario in stiffening its fines for distracted drivers. Both provinces have punishments that rank among the toughest in North America. The Manitoba government on June 4 unveiled a new 5-demerit penalty vs. the driver's license. The existing $200 fine remains the same. Distracted drivers previously faced a 2-demerit assessment. The new penalty goes into effect July 1. "This is the highest level of demerit points in Canada for the use of a handheld device," said Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh, left. All Canadian provinces use demerits to punish distracted … [Read more...]

Ontario plan: $1,000 plus points

The Ontario government followed through with plans to crack down on distracted drivers, proposing maximum fines of $1,000 and three points vs. offenders' licenses. Transportation Minister Glen Murray, left, introduced the "Keeping Ontario's Roads Safe Act" on March 17. The increased penalties for handheld cell phone use and texting had been sought by safety advocates and law enforcement: "Everyone's been saying you've got to put (distracted driving) in the same range as drinking and driving," the minister said. The distracted driving changes were anticipated, and followed action by the … [Read more...]

Too distracted to dodge the ticket

Some helpful citizens in Delta, British Columbia, tried to warn their fellow distracted drivers that police were writing cell phone tickets ahead. Alas, the RCMP says, many of the yakking & driving motorists in Delta were too distracted to see the red-letter warning sign. "Our members still issued 49 violations," a law officer said. The crudely written sign (what else) reads: "Cops are ahead, get off your phone." Delta is part of metro Vancouver. In February, British Columbia police wrote more than 5,500 tickets for texting & handheld cell phone use, despite the widely publicized … [Read more...]