Saskatoon driver wins cellphone appeal
Holding phone not the same as using it, judge agrees
A Saskatoon man who was ticketed after pulling out his cellphone while driving was wrongly convicted and will get a new trial, a judge has ruled.
The $280 fine Reginald Schafer received is also thrown out, for now, Queen's Bench Justice Martel Popescul ruled in a recent judgment.
Under Saskatchewan law, using electronic communications devices while driving is an offence.
Moving phone no violation
A Traffic Court trial heard that last April, a police officer saw Reginald Schafer holding a cellphone against his ear while driving around the city.
However, Schafer denied he was using it, saying that on April 22, 2010, he was only moving his cell from his pants pocket to his shirt pocket.
The Traffic Court judge decided just handling the phone was sufficient, convicted Shafer and fined him $230, plus a $50 victim surcharge.
Schafer appealed and on March 25, he won.
The original judge made a mistake, Popescul said in written decision.
Rules even stricter elsewhere
According to the law, "using" a phone means things like making a call, talking, texting or sending an email, Popescul said.
Unlike other jurisdictions such as Ontario, Saskatchewan does not prohibit merely "holding" a phone while driving, he said.
Because the original judge got it wrong, the conviction must be quashed and Schafer will get a new trial, he said.
It's not known if the Crown will proceed with a second trial.
Saskatchewan's ban on using hand-held cellphones while driving went into effect on Jan. 1, 2010. Now, only hands-free types of cellphones can be used.