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

Just Posted

City approves $10M to finish Port Alberni’s wastewater treatment plant

Money won’t come from taxation, but will affect sewer user fees, says city CAO

Women assaulted in pair of weekend attacks in Port Alberni

RCMP say no reason to suspect attacks are related, but suspects still at large

Coulson Aviation CEO walks Australian crash site, pays tribute to fallen flight crew

Company’s 737 tanker crews back in the air fighting Australian bushfires

Port Alberni drag racers turn attention back to Stamp Avenue for 2020, 2021

AVDRA to ask city council for permission, road closures to run Thunder in the Valley Aug. 7-9, 2020

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Opioid crisis to blame for shorter life expectancy in B.C. men, says Stats Can

Opioid crisis held responsible for declining life expectancy

Earthquake on top of highway closure a wake up call for Island’s West Coast

“When someone says, ‘Be prepared for 72 hours,’ that means exactly that: be prepared.”

Pregnant B.C. woman stuck in Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus outbreak

Woman is due to give birth in Wuhan, China unless she can get out

Taxi association asks B.C. Supreme Court to stop Uber, Lyft from operating

Petition alleges Passenger Transportation Board did not take taxis into account

Majority of Canadian boards had no female members in 2016 and 2017: StatCan

Statistics Canada says 18.1 per cent of director seats were held by women in 2017

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Most Read