A Victoria woman was acquitted of a distracted driving charge after a judge deemed her not to be in use of her phone despite it resting on the driver’s seat next to her thigh.
Meghan Sarah Wesley Wylie’s pulled her vehicle up to a stoplight on Tillicum Road on Dec. 28, 2018, when an officer with the CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit noticed her glance down a few times from his position a couple of metres away.
The officer walked up to the passenger side window and saw a phone on Wylie’s lap that was connected to the vehicle by a charging cable. The screen wasn’t illuminated and Wylie wasn’t touching the phone with her hands.
Wylie testified the phone wasn’t on her lap but beside her on the driver’s seat, next to her right thigh.
The constable asserted Wylie was guilty on two grounds, stating that charging the phone is a function of the phone and that resting a phone on the driver’s lap is “holding the device” within the meaning of the word use.
Judge Hunter Gordon outlined the meaning of use as holding the device in a position in which it may be used, as well as operating one or more of the device’s functions.
Gordon found that because the screen was not illuminated there was no evidence the phone was on.
The other ground that the constable relied on was that if the judge found the phone was, in fact, sitting on Wylie’s lap, she was, therefore “holding it.”
“I cannot say conclusively on the evidence that the phone was sitting on Ms. Wylie’s lap rather than on the driver’s seat against her right thigh,” stated Gordon.
Wylie was acquitted of the charge on Feb. 11.