Canadian Man Gets $120 Fine for Using Apple Watch While Driving

The man was ticketed after a police officer allegedly saw him operating the device while he was driving. He plans to appeal the ticket.

Apple Watch, Canada, driver, traffic ticket, Google Glass

A driver in Quebec, Canada, was given a $120 traffic ticket for allegedly using his Apple Watch while driving his car on a local roadway, but he intends to appeal the citation.

Jeffrey Macesin of nearby Pincourt got the ticket and four demerit points after he was pulled over by police for using the watch on his wrist as he headed onto Highway 20 from Pincourt, according to a May 27 report by CVT News in Canada.

"Macesin said he was shocked when he was pulled over because he didn't think he was breaking the law," the report stated. "The self-described gadget lover said he thought he was permitted to watch his new Apple Watch while driving, so long as he wasn't tapping away on his smartphone."

The officer who allegedly saw him and cited him, however, ticketed him under Section 439.1 of the Quebec Highway Safety Code, which forbids any person from using "a hand-held device that includes a telephone function" while driving a road vehicle, the story said.

Macesin told CVT News that he was simply "changing songs with my hand on the steering wheel” when he was pulled over. The driver contends that he "technically…wasn't using or holding a phone" at the time, so the ticket is not applicable.

“It's not so much handheld," he told CVT News. "It's a watch. You know, it's on my wrist. That's where it gets controversial. It's like, 'Is it? Is it not?' but I think this needs to be talked about."

Macesin told the station that he will contest the ticket and is considering hiring a lawyer to assist him.

The case is reminiscent of an earlier case involving Google Glass in California in October 2013, when a driver was ticketed for speeding and wearing Google Glass on a highway near San Diego, according to an earlier eWEEK report.

In that case, driver Cecelia Abadie of Temecula, Calif., eventually had the charges dismissed in January 2014 when a San Diego Traffic Court Commissioner ruled that the arresting officer had not observed her actually using the head-mounted computer. While the officer saw her wearing the device, the judge ruled that no proof existed that she was doing anything with it when she was pulled over.

The case was believed to be the first traffic ticket in the United States involving the futuristic Glass device.

Abadie received her Glass device as a Google Glass Explorer on May 1, 2013, and quickly posted the details of her traffic stop on her Google+ page on the day she was ticketed, expressing shock about the Glass citation and seeking any and all legal advice.

"A cop just stopped me and gave me a ticket for wearing Google Glass while driving!" wrote Abadie. "The exact line says: Driving with Monitor visible to Driver (Google Glass). Is #GoogleGlass illegal while driving or is this cop wrong??? Any legal advice is appreciated!! This happened in California. Do you know any other #GlassExplorers that got a similar ticket anywhere in the U.S.?"

The topic of Google Glass potentially being worn by drivers was raised in March 2013 in West Virginia, where a state legislator introduced a bill that would have banned driving by persons wearing head-mounted displays, including Google Glass. But the bill stalled and never came up for a vote in 2013.

The proposed ban on driving while wearing head-mounted displays was introduced in the state's legislature by Gary Howell, a Republican state representative in West Virginia's 56th district. Howell's main concern with the devices is that they create safety issues such as driver distraction, especially for younger, less-experienced drivers who might be among the users most likely to buy such technology. The proposed West Virginia law would have implemented a fine of $100 for a first offense, and $200 to $300 fines for subsequent offenses.