You’re relatively safe, it seems, using your phone in BC in the McDonald’s or Starbucks drive-thru.

Do not panic.

Getting your hands on your Big Mac and fries or your daily fix of Starbucks in the drive-thru isn’t likely to come with a distracted driving ticket for $368.

Given that March was Distracted Driving Month for police in British Columbia, there had been conversations Thursday morning on several radio stations involving police officers and lawyers about the possibility of being hit with the fine. aforementioned for using an electronic device while driving in fast food restaurants.

It has been suggested that using your device in drive-thru is like using it while stationary at traffic lights or at a railroad crossing.

There was even a slight mention of police posing as staff at the drive-thru window to catch you in the act.

However, cap. Mike Halskov, spokesperson for the BC Highway Patrol (BCHP), said targeted drive-thru for distracted drivers is completely off officers’ radars.

“Although technically possible because one is ‘driving’, even in a drive-thru, it is extremely unlikely that our BCHP officers will engage in this law enforcement practice – it violates spirit and intent of the law,” Halskov told the Richmond News.

You must be parked to not drive in British Columbia

Technically, he added, you have to be legally parked, not on the pavement, with a transmission in “park” to use your electronic device and being stopped in a drive-thru or at a traffic light is still considered “to drive”.

Halsov said the practice of ticketing people in drive-thrus is “not viewed favorably as an effective means of enforcing the law and, while I can never claim to speak for the court, I believe that traffic court judges would frown on this practice for the reason I mentioned.”

A Burnaby woman, however, was ticketed last December for using her phone while driving through a COVID-19 test queue.

A Vancouver lawyer has never had to defend a driving ticket…yet

Meanwhile, Kyla Lee of Acumen Law, which specializes in driving-related cases, told the News that she had never defended a ticket someone received at a drive-thru, and that nor had she heard of such a case.

“I would like to litigate a case like this because it is totally an abuse of power and authority – not just for the police to show up at workplaces in the service industry first online, (but also) to enforce laws that nobody complains about. “, said Lee, adding that there would also be time and money wasted enforcing distracted driving in “absurd situations where the public interest is not served”.

Lawyer: people don’t die in drive-thrus

Pointing to the most recent statistics on deaths from distracted driving, Lee said there were no accidents or fatalities in drive-thru.

“That’s not what causes the more than 70 deaths a year from distracted driving,” she said.

“Actions like this undermine public confidence in the legitimacy of law enforcement action for distracted driving, in my view, and will have the opposite effect, with people less likely to comply with the law. .”

According to the BCHP, distracted driving is responsible for more than 25% of all deaths in car crashes and is the second leading cause of fatal collisions in British Columbia.

Police say distracted driving is not limited to using a cell phone or electronic device, and includes personal grooming, eating or drinking and reading. Other distractions include unsecured pets, passengers, and not knowing your route.

Penalties for distracted driving in British Columbia

Fines for using an electronic device while driving start at $368, plus four penalty points, according to police.

From there, the costs increase with each subsequent violation.

According to ICBC, if you accumulate more than three points in a 12-month evaluation period, you will pay a driver penalty point bonus.

ICBC says bonuses range from $252 for four points to $34,560 for 50 or more points.


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