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

Rural Island property owners stymied by agricultural land changes

Regulations encouraging farming, ALR land protection, stymie legacy planning

Anticipation building for trip to D-Day anniversary for Chemainus students

Experience of being there promises to be a memorable one

Retired teacher’s generosity provides historic opportunity for two Chemainus students

Blitterswyk and Brown looking forward to being at Juno Beach for 75th anniversary of D-Day

Songbirds return to their roost in the West Shore

Tips, such as keeping roaming cats from ruffling any feathers, can attract more birds

EDITORIAL: Cancellation of drag races another hit to Port Alberni tourism

The first hit came a few months ago when city council shut down popular Alberni Pacific Railway

Police say it’s “impressive” no arrests were made after Raptors celebrations

Toronto will play the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors next

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Most Read