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Cup holder strikes again: 2nd B.C. driver slapped with distracted driving ticket

For the second time in as many weeks, a B.C. driver has received a ticket for charging their phone in the cup holder - raising questions about whether or not it constitutes distracted driving. Kylie Stanton reports.

A Vancouver Island man is heading to court to challenge a distracted driving ticket he says he was given for having his phone in his cup holder.

It’s the second such incident in less than a month.

Josh Delgado was given the ticket on Sept. 23 in Saanich while he says he was stopped at a red light.

Delgado said the phone was face down, plugged into a USB charger and connected to his work van’s stereo via Bluetooth as his employer requires.

READ MORE: B.C. senior slapped with $368 distracted driving fine for cellphone in cup holder

“The officer knocked on my window, I rolled the window down, asked him what was going on he said he saw me looking down. And then he looked down and saw my phone,” he said.

“I told him I’d dispute it and I think he might have even said something like, ‘You probably have a good chance’ and went on his way.”

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B.C. senior’s distracted driving ticket tossed
B.C. senior’s distracted driving ticket tossed

Delgado said he was particularly frustrated because the phone was hooked up properly through the Bluetooth system, so any calls or texts would come through the vehicle’s speakers.

He said the incident bothered him enough that he created a Twitter account to share his experience.

‘I’m definitely against distracted driving, I just had a co-worker pass away in a motorcycle accident recently, so it’s not something I’m out there doing,” he said, adding that he felt a warning would have been more appropriate in the circumstances.

“But it just shows that that’s not what they’re trying to do. They’re not trying to prevent people being on their phone they just seem to be trying to collect money.”

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What are the distracted driving laws in B.C.?
What are the distracted driving laws in B.C.?

A spokesperson for Saanich police said the department had reviewed the ticket, but wouldn’t be cancelling it.

“Based on the observations of the officers, the phone was being used by the driver and as a result he was stopped and issued this ticket,” said Sgt. Julie Fast in an email.

Lawyer Kyla Lee with Acumen Law said if Delgado’s account of the situation is accurate, he has a good chance of having the ticket thrown out.

“According to rulings from the B.C. Supreme Court, police are not allowed to issue tickets for people who just have a phone loose in the vehicle, whether it’s in the cup holder, the centre console, loose on the passenger seat, that is not an offence under the Motor Vehicle Act,” she said.

Lee went on to say there is “a lot of confusion” about what constitutes distracted driving, both because of government messaging and differing interpretations of court rulings.

“We see as well police officers interpreting the law inconsistently. A lot of police officers tell me, ‘I’m never going to issue a ticket for having a phone in a cup holder, I don’t believe that’s the purpose of the law,’ but there are lots of police officers who do ticket for that.”

READ MORE: Police apologize, cancel B.C. senior’s distracted driving fine for cellphone in cup holder

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Delgado’s situation surfaced not long after Vancouver police were forced to apologize to a Richmond senior who was given a distracted driving ticket for having her phone in a cup holder, plugged into a charger.

The woman said both of her hands were on the wheel, and she wasn’t looking at the phone when she was pulled over.

Police cancelled the ticket, but would not comment further on the issue.

The story of Randi’s ticket sparked outrage among critics who say B.C.’s distracted driving laws are too confusing and open to interpretation.

-With files from Robyn Crawford

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