Canadian police have fined a man in Quebec $120 for using his Apple Watch while driving.
Jeffery Macesin was changing songs using his Apple Watch when he was pulled over by Canadian police. As well as the $120 fine, he also had four points added to his license, reports TheVerge.
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Defendant will contest the fine
Macesin was confused by the fine, and told Montreal-based CTV News that he thought it would be OK to use his Apple Watch while driving, as long as he was not using his iPhone.
“I have it in the bag charging while the auxiliary cable is plugged in to the radio and this controls my phone to play the music. So I was changing songs with my hand on the steering wheel,” he said.
Canadian police obviously took a different view, and enforced the Quebec Highway Safety Code which reads: “No person may, while driving a road vehicle, use a handheld device that includes a telephone function.”
Legal precedent in Canada
The fine sets a worrying precedent for smartwatch users in Canada, and it seems as though legal issues may well arise around the world as smartwatch ownership becomes increasingly common.
“It’s not so much handheld. It’s a watch,” said Macesin. He told CTV News that he would be contesting the ticket. “You know, it’s on my wrist. That’s where it gets controversial.”
According to traffic lawyer Avi Levy, the law needs to be clarified for situations such as this one. “It was just a question of time before we actually got a case like this,” he said. “I’m not convinced that the Apple Watch itself is a phone,” he added. “It’s rather a Bluetooth device that communicates the telephone signal from the phone and it has been established under the law that you are allowed to use Bluetooth devices.”
Although the law in Canada may be open to dispute, certain regions of the U.S. have clearer rules. For example, drivers in New York cannot use devices that fit the following definitions: “broadband personal communication device”, “two-way messaging device”, “portable computing device”, “or any other electronic device when used to input, write, send, receive, or read text for present or future communication.”
We will surely see future legal cases concerning the use of the Apple Watch, or other smartwatches, in the very near future.