Ontario Court Rules That Even Holding a Cellphone in Hand While Driving is Now Illegal

Your phone could be on Airplane mode. And you could hold it for only two seconds. And you would be breaking the law.

The Court of Appeal for Ontario over the weekend ruled that it is illegal to hold a cellphone while driving regardless of whether it is transmitting or how long it is in a driver’s hand.

The decision came following two rulings where drivers attemped to avoid punishment through current loopholes of laws. Quoth The Globe and Mail:

In one case, Khojasteh Kazemi argued that she had just picked up her cellphone, which had fallen off the seat to the floor of her car when she stopped at a red light, when a police officer spotted her holding it. A lower court judge dismissed Kazemi’s charge, ruling that there must be some “sustained physical holding” in order to convict, but the Appeal Court overturned that finding.

In the other case, Hugo Pizzurro was caught driving with a cellphone in his hand but argued the Crown couldn’t prove it was capable of sending or receiving at the time. But the Appeal Court concluded the language in the law requiring a capability of sending or receiving applies only to devices other than cellphones as cellphones have that capability built in.

The Appeal Court wrote that road safety “is best ensured by a complete prohibition on having a cellphone in one’s hand at all while driving.”

The court added that a complete prohibition “also best focuses a driver’s undivided attention on driving.”