Put the phone down! Ontario’s Top Court sends strong message to distracted drivers

The Ontario Court of Appeal delivered two decisions on Friday, September 26, 2013, which make it very clear that even holding a cellphone while driving constitutes an offence.

The decisions will make enforcement of s.78.1(1)of the Highway Traffic Act much easier for police as the Court found that there is no requirement for the Crown to actually prove the device was being used or was capable of receiving or transmitting.

In the Kazemi decision Justice Goudge wrote:

“Road safety is best ensured by a complete prohibition on having a cell phone in one’s hand at all while driving. A complete prohibition also best focuses a driver’s undivided attention on driving. It eliminates any risk of the driver being distracted by the information on the cell phone. It removes any temptation to use the cell phone while driving. And it prevents any possibility of the cell phone physically interfering with the driver’s ability to drive. In short, it removes the various ways that road safety and driver attention can be harmed if a driver has a cell phone in his or her hand while driving.”

The clear message from the Court is that the danger posed by drivers who text or talk while driving is unacceptable from a public safety perspective.

R. v. Kazzemi, 2013 ONCA 585 can be found at http://www.ontariocourts.ca/decisions/2013/2013ONCA0585.htm

R. v. Pizzuro, 2013 ONCA 584 can be found at http://www.ontariocourts.ca/decisions/2013/2013ONCA0584.htm

Contributed by Laura Hillyer, Barrister & Solicitor, Martin Hillyer & Associates. Ms. Hillyer is an OTLA Director and Chair of OTLA’s Public Relations Committee (2013-2014).

Re-posted by permission at www.mhalaw.ca.

Laura Hillyer
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Laura Hillyer divides her practice between Personal Injury Litigation and Criminal Defence. She strives to help her clients with the challenges they face whether they are injured or disabled and are seeking fair compensation, or are charged with a criminal offence. Laura believes that practising in these two areas of law provides her with a wide breadth of experience and gives her a balanced approach in facing legal problems.