HOW TO FIGHT A HANDHELD DEVICE TICKET IN ONTARIO?
How to fight a handheld device ticket in Ontario. This is an important question to be asking because in Ontario there seems to be a heightened level of these charges arriving in a person’s hands. The section they’re charged with under the Highway Traffic Act is Section 78. 1 Sub 1. And I think I’ll first start by telling you, that there’s a relatively new section to the Highway Traffic Act.
I’m going to guess somewhere about 10 to 15 years old and in law that’s a relatively new section. The purpose of the legislation is because of the problems that were occurring across Ontario and in fact, in North America. The danger of distracted driving was causing twice as many accidents as impaired driving.
And we all know the significance about the impaired driving campaigns. They’ve been, we’ve seen them a thousand times. So, when I tell you that the accidents and the problems that were occurring were at least twice as bad as the impaired driving, you can understand why this type of legislation exists.
And in fact, some, some loose statistics: 21 percent of fatal accidents involved distracted driving. 27 percent of accidents involving serious injury involved distracted driving or, or a handheld device. And the consequences of conviction for something like that are licensed suspensions, significant fines, and an enormously increased insurance rates.
So that’s sort of the backdrop of why that legislation exists. Now, politically that legislation has been the focus for many years now of the Provincial Offences Court and obviously the focus of enforcement agencies out there. So, there are a lot of these tickets and it’s overwhelming when a defendant is handed one of these tickets and they’re very concerned and for good reason now that you know what I’ve just said.
So it is important to realize that to defend yourself on a ticket like that, you really need to understand that that legislation is designed specifically to stop that distracted behavior. So it was initially very focused on adolescent males and females, so I’m going to say under the age of 25, and they were using their cell phones to their own detriment and to the public’s detriment by reading texts, sending texts, looking at emails, looking at videos, talking on their phone, and those types of behaviours have been controlled to a degree in Ontario because of this very rigid enforcement. But by example, you know, what that simply means is that, you know, I’ll give you an example; if you were stopped at a red light and you touched your phone. You looked at maybe a text from your daughter or your girlfriend. Technically, you shouldn’t have touched that phone. Technically, you shouldn’t have looked at it. And if an officer sees that, he can, in good standing, charge you with that particular offence.
But, if we look at the purpose of the legislation, and that would be, well we want to protect the public, we want to protect the person doing that, and anyone else using the roadway at that time, from that distraction. But if that distraction, was no more than turning up the car stereo, meaning that you looked at it at a stopped traffic light where nothing was moving and it was momentary.
Well, it’s a very difficult putt, very difficult argument for the Crown or the prosecution to allege that you were distracted. So in a situation like that, you know, we would argue, although technically it was an offence, there was what I would term reasonable compliance. And it would certainly raise the eyebrows of a judge or justice of the peace to have to convict somebody that was following the purpose of the law, but maybe not to the full extent.
So the answer is quite clearly how to fight a handheld device ticket in Ontario. You’d need someone sophisticated enough to know what the legislation is, why it is there, and how that would apply to your specific set of facts, formulating a defense which could assist you in getting out of this particular charge.