B.C. driver found guilty of using cellphone despite dead battery

The court reasoned that earbuds plugged into phone constituted holding it

A B.C. motorist has been found guilty as charged of using an electronic device while driving in Surrey despite his claim the cellphone battery was dead.

The small claims case was heard in Richmond provincial court on April 8, with Judicial Justice Brent Adair presiding.

Judicial justices serve part-time and primarily hear traffic and bylaws cases, and ticketable offences under provincial law.

Patrick Henry Grzelak was found guilty of holding an electronic device while driving on Oct. 12, 2018 in Surrey, contrary to the Motor Vehicle Act.

The court heard he was alone in his black Mercedes, heading home and driving north on 152nd Street after a long day’s work. His Apple iPhone was in the centre cubby hole in the dashboard at the front end of the console, Adair noted in his reasons for judgment.

READ ALSO: Surrey Mounties ticket more than 700 distracted drivers in March

“The wire for his ear budges were plugged into the phone,” Adair noted. “He had the two earbuds in his ears, one on each side. The cellphone battery was dead. The screen was not illuminated, no music, no conversation or anything else was coming through the earbuds.”

Adair said the issue was whether the defendant was “using” the cell phone. Use, according to the Motor Vehicle Act, includes “holding the device in a position in which it may be used.”

If Grzelak was doing that, Adair reasoned, he must be convicted of the charge “even if the battery was dead, and even if the defendant was not operating one of the functions of the device.”

The cell phone was not in his hands or on his lap. But by plugging the earbud wire into it, he found, Grzelak “enlarged” the device.

“Since the earbuds were part of the electronic device and since the earbuds were in the defendant’s ears, it necessarily follows that the defendant was holding the device (or part of the device) in a position in which it could be used, i.e. his ears,” the Judicial Justice decided.

On the dead battery, he found, “simply holding the device in a position in which it may be used constitutes the offence, even if it is temporarily inoperative.”

Meantime, using an electronic device while you’re driving will draw a $368 fine. There’s also a “driver risk premium” to consider, escalating from $444 on the second conviction to $1,356 on the 10th, and continuing to rise beyond that.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Just Posted

Ucluelet approves RVs as temporary housing solution for fish plant workers

“We are hoping for the best. Everybody has to support each other here.”

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce champions unique staff housing solution

“It was a win-win situation for all of us.”

Tofino mayor cheers provincial government’s plastics survey

Mayors of Tofino, Victoria, Squamish and Rossland collaborate on letter.

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Wife charged in husband’s death in Sechelt

Karin Fischer has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Max

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Retired Vancouver Island teacher ‘Set for Life’ after $675K lottery win

Patrick Shannon plans to buy new sails for his sailboat

Speculation tax forces sale of Greater Victoria’s iconic ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Man at centre of dropped HIV-disclosure case sues province and 10 cops

Brian Carlisle of Abbotsford says Mission RCMP defamed him and were ‘negligent’ in their investigation

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Most Read