Auto Insurance

Vancouver woman fined for driving with phone in cup holder wins distracted driving case

By: Lisa Coxon on October 4, 2019

The Vancouver Police Department has cancelled a distracted driving ticket and apologized to a senior B.C. woman who was fined for driving with her cell phone in her cup holder.

The VPD fined Randi Kramer, who is in her 70s, $368 for using an electronic device while driving after she was stopped in Vancouver on Monday near the Hotel Georgia.

Kramer said that when she was pulled over, she had both hands on the steering wheel and wasn’t looking at her phone. But the officer who pulled her over said that the phone was not allowed to be visible.

When he found out what had happened, Kramer’s son Trevor started advocating for his mother, and Vancouver DUI lawyer Kyla Lee took on the senior’s case pro bono. 

Two days after she was ticketed, Kramer was contacted by the VPD and told that the ticket had been cancelled. She also received an apology.

“She was elated,” Trevor told Global News Radio. “I could hear the excitement in her voice.”

Lee was also satisfied with the outcome.

“I am pleased the VPD took swift action to review the circumstances in this case and to put an end to the stress my client was experiencing,” Lee told Star Vancouver. The ticket did not make its way to ICBC, either.

Lee actually litigated a similar case to Kramer’s back in March, according to the Toronto Star, which set precedent around what constitutes distracted driving in the province.

In that decision, Justice Murray Blok wrote that “the mere presence of a cell phone within sight of a driver is not enough to secure a conviction,” according to the Star.

B.C.’s Motor Vehicle Act says that drivers are allowed to use their electronic device with a hands-free setting, but only if the device is mounted securely. In other words, you can’t engage with the device using your hands at all while you’re driving — even if you’re just stopped at a red light.

The rules are similar in Ontario, according to the Ministry of Transportation.

This no doubt creates a bit of a grey area for rideshare drivers, who rely on their phones’ GPS feature to collect and drop off fares. 

Trevor is hopeful his mother’s case will be used as an example of how to properly enforce distracted driving.

“It’s something that has really resonated with the public,” he told Global News, “and it’s nice to see the VPD back down on something that was clearly a mistake.”