Supreme Court of Nova Scotia tosses out Siri-related distracted driving case

Using your mobile device while driving is against the law in Nova Scotia. Anyone caught talking, texting and accessing the web while the vehicle is in motion could see a base fine of $233.95 and four demerit points. However, Supreme Court of Nova Scotia Justice Jamie Campbell made a decision that could see ripples across Canada.

Nova Scotia-based Dr. Ajirogho Enakeno Ikede was driving his vehicle along Commercial Street in New Minas and was pulled over by the police for using a smartphone while driving. Ikede contested the charge and stated to the officer that the device was in “voice level”, noting he was asking Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, for directions. Ikede said that he was not actually physically “using” her iPhone, pleaded not guilty and fought the ticket.

“The meaning of the phrase ‘to use a hand-held cellular telephone’ is not as clear as it might at first appear. It has been interpreted to mean using electronic devices such as smartphones that happen to have cellular telephone functions. It has been held to be broader than having a conversation and to include accessing other applications. It does not include just holding the device in the hand though,” said Justice Campbell stated in his decision. “The legislation does not provide a precise description of what is prohibited. Case law has had to define the terms, gradually. The result is a law that is difficult for people to understand.”

Furthermore, Campbell noted the term “use,” when in the context of distracted driving and “using” a mobile device “needs a more specific meaning.” In other provinces, such as New Brunswick, British Columbia and Ontario, drivers are barred from holding a mobile device while driving.

“The iPhone was not being used in a way that required the driver to divert his attention from the task of driving. It was being used for the very purpose of driving more safely by using a voice-activated navigational system. There was no visual distraction.” said the report.

[source] Nova Scotia [/source]