Burnaby mayor, Derek Corrigan has been found guilty of distracted driving after a July 2013 incident when he was pulled over with a cellphone in his hand.
On July 11, 2013, Mayor Corrigan was driving southbound on Willingdown Avenue near Sanderson Way when Constable Jonathan Gillis of the Burnaby RCMP drove up alongside his window on a motorcycle and asked him to pull over.
Corrigan was holding a cellphone in his right hand and tapping the screen when Constable Gillis spotted him and gave him a ticket. On Wednesday, Corrigan disputed the ticket in court.
Stating that the phone had a dead battery, Corrigan told the court (according to Burnaby Now) that he was in a hurry when getting into his car and didn’t take the phone out of his hand. He also questioned whether or not Constable Gillis was able to see that the phone was not operative in the short time he saw into the car.
In defense, Gillis noted that just holding the phone, turned on or not, was enough to issue a ticket, but Corrigan questioned how holding a dead phone while driving was any different than holding a wallet or a brick.
Justice Brian Burgess disagreed with Corrigan, stating: “There is a difference between a cellphone – even a cellphone that has a dead battery – and a wallet or a brick, and that is that there is legislation prohibiting a driver from using a cellphone while driving.”
He then issued a guilty verdict to Mayor Corrigan, ordering him to pay the $167 fine and take three driver penalty points off his record.
According to section 214.2 of the Motor Vehicle Act, “A person must not use an electronic device while driving or operating a motor vehicle on a highway” or “Without limiting subsection (1), a person must not communicate by means of an electronic device with another person or another device by electronic mail or other text-based message.”
While some may find the verb “use” ambiguous, the Motor Vehicle Act defines it as:
- Holding the device in a position in which it may be used;
- Operating one or more of the device’s functions;
- Communicating orally by means of the device with another person or another device;
- Taking another action that is set out in the regulations by means of, with or in relation to an electronic device.