A Canadian man got a $287 ticket for texting while driving — while he was waiting for his morning coffee in the drive-thru at Tim Horton’s.
We can all agree that texting while driving is a bad thing and you shouldn’t do it, but does that apply while you’re in the drive-thru? That’s a question A.J. Daoust of Beaumont, Alberta, Canada, will take before a judge when he contests his ticket in a few weeks, according to CBC News.
— TorontoStar (@TorontoStar) December 1, 2015
Doust says he was waiting in line for his morning coffee at a Beaumont Tim Horton’s — a popular Canadian doughnut chain — when he got a text. No sooner than he picked up his phone to answer it, he heard a tap on his window.
“All of a sudden someone walked up next to me. I didn’t really know what was going on. I thought maybe it was somebody getting donations for something, but it turns out it was a policeman.”
The cop let Daoust finish his journey through the drive-thru to get his coffee, before pulling him aside and writing him up.
Daoust, who says he believes the cop was in an undercover patrol car and was also in line at the drive-thru, was not amused.
“I asked him, ‘In a drive-thru, is this even possible?’ Once he gave me the ticket, I was absolutely livid. He got an earful from me. He was definitely within his rights… but to me this is ridiculous. It’s just kind of heavy-handed.”
Acting Corp. Kelvin Koch of the Beaumont Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), via the Toronto Star, has a different take on what happened.
“His vehicle was in motion while he was in the drive-thru. It was moving…. He was extremely disrespectful and showed a poor attitude towards the officer.”
Koch also denies that Canadian police are specifically targeting drive-thru customers who use their phones for distracted driving citations.
Alberta law describes “distracted driving” as using the phone — calling, texting, browsing the internet, etc. — when the engine is on and the driver is behind the wheel, according to CTV News. That law applies whether the driver is on public or private property.
And there’s a good reason why cops don’t want drivers using their phones while their vehicles are stopped – if the vehicle is stopped at a railroad crossing or a red light, they still need to be focused on what they’re doing, says Jeff Kasbrick of the Alberta Motor Association.
“There’s the classic, that we see all the time, which is at a red light people will sometimes pull out their cell phones. That’s considered a distraction.”
Still, Daoust thinks a $287 fine for picking up a phone while in the drive-thru is a bit much.
“It’s a slippery slope. I honestly don’t know what the solution is. It’s a widespread problem, distracted driving. But I think this is a bit on the ridiculous side.”
To make matters worse for Daoust, he just got laid off from his job as a carpenter, which means he’s going to be short on cash to pay his ticket — if, that is, a judge sides with the cops in his case.
Daoust says he intends to fight his ticket in court when he appears before a judge on January 6, but he says he’s “not optimistic” that his ticket will be thrown out or reduced.
Do you think a $287 fine for texting while waiting in a drive-thru is a fair punishment? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image via Shutterstock/Kzenon]