Police Officer Disguised as Panhandler Issues Tickets to Motorists in Downtown Ottawa Intersection

Update: 

If you want to use a cellphone on Ontario roads, you are permitted to do so, as long as you speak and listen through a wireless device. Most motorists use a bluetooth wireless device to conduct telephone conversations. You are not allowed to hold a wireless device or to read or send text messages or emails.

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In October, 2009 Bill 118 – Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act, 2009 will passed and the government decided to begin to enforce this law after a public awareness program is conducted for Ontarionians.  Starting in February, 2010 the ban against handheld devices was enforced.  This law has now been in effect for the last two (2) years.

How many phones and bluetooth wireless devices could be purchased for $155, the same fine associated with holding or using your handheld device to talk or text while you are in your vehicle and not parked? Section 78 of the Highway Traffic Act says the following:

Hands-free mode allowed

(3)  Despite subsections (1) and (2), a person may drive a motor vehicle on a highway while using a device described in those subsections in hands-free mode

Three (3) Day Undercover Operation by Ottawa Police:

A three-day undercover operation conducted between April 17-19, 2012 inclusive by Ottawa police,  has led to 97 distracted driving tickets being issued to motorists who were caught talking or texting behind the wheel.

A cop dressed as a panhandler stood near Bank Street and Chamberlain Avenue Tuesday through Thursday for about three hours at a time to catch distracted drivers.Police officers monitored traffic for a total of 8.5 hours over three days.

Police said the officer was holding a sign saying, “I am Cst. — of the Ottawa Police Service. If you are talking on your hand held cell phone then you are about to get a ticket.” When the officer observed an infraction, he or she provided details to nearby uniformed officers. Distracted drivers were pulled over and issued a ticket.

At the end the operation, police handed out 240 tickets for Highway Traffic Act infractions (240 Provincial Offence Notices (PON) were issued).

In addition to the 97 tickets for distracted driving, police ticketed 18 people for seatbelt infractions and 125 people for other provincial offences, including equipment issues and child restraints.

Regular traffic offences come with a $110 fine while distracted drivers (who held/used handheld devices) were fined $155.

Police spokeman Const. Marc Soucy said the operation was successful and Ottawa police may try it again.

“I still see drivers on my way to work or from work talking on their cell phones,” said Soucy, adding that he saw someone shaving while driving on the Queensway this week.

“Talking on your hand held phone while driving is not worth risking your safety or that of others using the roadway,” stated Sgt. Al Ferris of the Ottawa Police Service Traffic Section. “If you don’t have a hands free device, pull over or hang up the phone.”

This is where the Ottawa police officer stood ( at Bank Street and Chamberlain Avenue), disguised as a panhandler:


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The sections of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act which applies to the situations described hereinabove:

Display screen visible to driver prohibited

78.  (1)  No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway if the display screen of a television, computer or other device in the motor vehicle is visible to the driver. 2009, c. 4, s. 1.

Exceptions

(2)  Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of the display screen of,

(a) a global positioning system navigation device while being used to provide navigation information;

(b) a hand-held wireless communication device or a device that is prescribed for the purpose of subsection 78.1 (1);

(c) a logistical transportation tracking system device used for commercial purposes to track vehicle location, driver status or the delivery of packages or other goods;

(d) a collision avoidance system device that has no other function than to deliver a collision avoidance system; or

(e) an instrument, gauge or system that is used to provide information to the driver regarding the status of various systems of the motor vehicle. 2009, c. 4, s. 1.

Same

(3)  Subsection (1) does not apply to the driver of an ambulance, fire department vehicle or police department vehicle. 2009, c. 4, s. 1.

Exemption by regulation

(4)  The Minister may make regulations exempting any class of persons or vehicles or any device from this section and prescribing conditions and circumstances for any such exemption. 2009, c. 4, s. 1.

Hand-held devices prohibited

Wireless communication devices

78.1  (1)  No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held wireless communication device or other prescribed device that is capable of receiving or transmitting telephone communications, electronic data, mail or text messages. 2009, c. 4, s. 2.

Entertainment devices

(2)  No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held electronic entertainment device or other prescribed device the primary use of which is unrelated to the safe operation of the motor vehicle. 2009, c. 4, s. 2.

Hands-free mode allowed

(3)  Despite subsections (1) and (2), a person may drive a motor vehicle on a highway while using a device described in those subsections in hands-free mode. 2009, c. 4, s. 2.

Exceptions

(4)  Subsection (1) does not apply to,

(a) the driver of an ambulance, fire department vehicle or police department vehicle;

(b) any other prescribed person or class of persons;

(c) a person holding or using a device prescribed for the purpose of this subsection; or

(d) a person engaged in a prescribed activity or in prescribed conditions or circumstances. 2009, c. 4, s. 2.

Same

(5)  Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of the use of a device to contact ambulance, police or fire department emergency services. 2009, c. 4, s. 2.

Same

(6)  Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply if all of the following conditions are met:

1. The motor vehicle is off the roadway or is lawfully parked on the roadway.

2. The motor vehicle is not in motion.

3. The motor vehicle is not impeding traffic. 2009, c. 4, s. 2.

Regulations

(7)  The Minister may make regulations,

(a) prescribing devices for the purpose of subsections (1) and (2);

(b) prescribing persons, classes of persons, devices, activities, conditions and circumstances for the purpose of subsection (4). 2009, c. 4, s. 2.

Definition

(8)  In this section,

“motor vehicle” includes a street car, motorized snow vehicle, farm tractor, self-propelled implement of husbandry and road-building machine. 2009, c. 4, s. 2.

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