Earbuds not allowed while driving, even if phone dead: B.C. Supreme Court

RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) — The B.C. Supreme Court has upheld a 2019 decision, agreeing that plugged-in earbuds are part of an electronic device – even when the phone battery is dead – and therefore can’t be worn while driving.

The ruling was made by Chief Justice H. Holmes on Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver..

Patrick Grzelak had appealed his conviction for using an electronic device while driving.

According to the appeal ruling, Grzelak was driving home from work, alone in his car. His iPhone was in the centre cubbyhole in the dashboard, but its battery was dead.

“Mr. Grzelak had earbuds in his ears because, he explained in the trial, he had been using them during a long day of telephone conference calls, and he had developed a habit of leaving them in his ears for the drive home to help block out the drone of the highway.”

The wire from the earbuds was plugged into the iPhone, says the decision.

The appeal court concluded that Grzelak was holding his iPhone in a position in which it may be used.

“Mr. Grzelak was holding the earbuds in his ears, and the earbuds were effectively part of the iPhone because they were connected to it by their wire. It did not matter that the iPhone’s battery was dead, because the temporary inoperability of an iPhone does not remove it from the definition of ‘electronic device,’” or from the definition of “use.”

According to the Motor Vehicle Act, a person must not use an electronic device while driving or operating a motor vehicle on a highway.

“The judicial justice did not err in concluding that Mr. Grzelak used an electronic device within the meaning,” says the ruling.

“The appeal must be dismissed.”

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