Randi Kramer is fighting a distracted driving ticket she received for having her phone charging in her car’s cupholder while driving on Oct. 1, 2019. (Trevor Kramer)

B.C. senior’s $368 ticket for cellphone in cupholder sparks debate

Woman had both hands on the wheel and was not using her phone

UPDATE: Vancouver police have since cancelled the fine. Read more here

A Richmond senior is upset after receiving a $368 distracted driving ticket for having her cellphone in the cupholder of her car.

Randi Kramer was driving along West Georgia Street in Vancouver when she stopped at a red light by the Hotel Georgia on Tuesday, her son Trevor told Black Press Media.

“She was sitting at a red light with both hands on the steering wheel when she got a tap on her passenger-side window,” Trevor said.

Randi assumed it was a panhandler, but was shocked to see a uniformed police officer.

Trevor said the officer came around to the driver’s side and asked for her licence.

“He said that it was Safe Driving Month and he was going to ticket her for having her cellphone charging and visible,” Trevor said.

Randi, who is in her 70s, told the officer she didn’t know that was against the law, and received a $368 ticket, despite not using or touching her phone.

“This was the first ticket [she’s ever gotten],” Trevor said.

Randi had been returning home after going for preventative dementia testing on the North Shore, her son said, and had been feeling positive because she’d been told “it was the best they’d ever seen.”

But the ticket “ruined” the good feeling, he said.

“She bought her car wanting one that had CarPlay, voice controls and Bluetooth,” he said, adding that his mom went out of her way to obey the law.

Trevor took to Twitter to see if the ticket was as arbitrary as he thought it was.

“Hey @IRPlawyer, what do you think of this? My mom is in her 70s, has never had a single ticket in 50+ years of driving in BC. Today, she got a $368 ticket for having her phone visible (plugged in while connected to Bluetooth for voice / SMS). She wasn’t looking at / touching it,” he tweeted at defence lawyer Kyla Lee.

Replied Lee: “Police ticket for having the phone charging. It’s ridiculous as it is not the distraction the government wishes to prohibit. Tell your mom to call me. We will help her out.

While Randi has since retained Lee, who believes she has a great chance of beating this ticket, Trevor worries about seniors who don’t have anyone to advocate for them.

“Think of the people who don’t have a son who knows how to go on Twitter,” he said.

“A lot of people don’t know the process to dispute [a ticket], or don’t understand the legislation.”

He hopes a ruling from the B.C. Supreme Court earlier this year could help clarify the issue for both his mom and other drivers.

In March, a judge ruled in favour of a man appealing a distracted driving ticket he got for driving with a phone wedged into the passenger seat.

READ MORE: Having phone within sight while driving does not violate law, B.C. judge says

Legislation states that holding the phone or “operating one or more of the device’s functions” qualifies as distracted driving.

Trevor called that “pretty vague.”

“How is a phone mount any safer than a phone sitting in a cup holder?” he asked. “Does a phone ringing in a purse count?”

When asked about the ticket, Vancouver police said: “It wouldn’t be appropriate to litigate a single traffic ticket through the media.”

In an email to Black Press Media, a police spokesperson said there was a precedent for ticketing a person for “using an electronic device even if they are not touching it.”

This would apply if a device is turned on, within reach of the driver, and causing the driver to be distracted while driving, the email said.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Chemainus artist’s painting of a front-line worker a powerful image

Chemainus artist puts her creative touch to COVID Angel

Drivesmart column: Traffic calming in your neighbourhood

Since the police are only part of the solution, what are the alternatives?

COVID-19 means different graduations for Cowichan students in 2020

At Lake Cowichan students did the traditional hat toss

Mary Lowther column: Pre-sprouting corn in paper towels

My new packet of spinach didn’t grow when I put the seeds directly into potting soil

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Annual music event in Comox Valley celebrates online instead

Vancouver Island MusicFest holds virtual celebration set for July 10

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Most Read