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

Island Health says York Road only location available for Wellness and Recovery Centre

Health Authority claims no other suitable site available

Survey to gauge interest in connecting Cowichan to Nanaimo by bus

People can fill out the survey until Oct. 16.

Cowichan Valley family overwhelmed with 14 Lab puppies

Litter may be one of the biggest ever

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Cowichan Performing Arts Centre, Big Stick light up red to signal COVID devastation

“COVID-19 has been truly devastating to the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre”

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Most Read