ALBERTA

Distracted Driving Alberta: Police Proposal To Confiscate Cellphones Panned

03/13/2013 06:47 EDT | Updated 03/13/2013 06:49 EDT
Alamy

It was only a contemplation but suggestions that Alberta drivers may have their cellphones taken away by police as punishment for distracted driving had readers slamming the phone on the notion.

Readers took to Twitter, Facebook and comment boards to voice their disdain for a proposal in B.C. that would see police given the powers to confiscate cellphones from distracted drivers, a move that Alberta officials would not commit to but said they were watching.

"Does private property have no meaning in this country anymore. How about innocent until proven guilty," said Jacob Alexander on Facebook.

"Anything the police 'catch' you doing is subject to proof by the crown that said act was actually committed. If you want to live in a nation where the police play judge and jury on top of law enforcement, I am sure Iran would be happy to have you."

Story continues after slideshow

Readers Weigh In On Cellphone Confiscation

Others opposed the idea not on principle but in execution.

"While I totally agree with the principle of this law, it is so vague! So much is left to the 'discrimination' of the officer and there is so much abuse of power, within the policing system, in this province," said Shauna Thompson on Facebook.

"No way. Fine me if you wish. Taking people's phones is a poor option as most phones act as a link to people's business and personal lives, email, etc. Cops have their paws on enough of my freedoms," said Dave Mallett also on Facebook.

Others cheered the idea citing both the danger that texting and driving poses to the public, as well as the fact that those behind the wheel should know better.

"Yes, Resoundingly yes," said Robert Hutton on www.huffingtonpost.ca/alberta.

"Here in Toronto, crotch gazing is at an epidemic. We hear about the need to invest billions in transit, and complain about increasing car insurance rates that are already onerous, yet every day as I drive to work I encounter dozens of drivers who think they are cleverly hiding their texting by the telltale crotch peek every few seconds - and they always hold up traffic as they do it.

"Take away their phones. Anyone too selfish and stupid to pry themselves away from their cell and who is so addicted to texting shouldn't have one - and I don't care to keep subsidizing their self-entitlement through my insurance rates and through the gridlock they cause."

Some even went further, suggesting heavier fines and harsher punishments.

"Agreed, but don't stop there suspend their cell phone service for 30 days," added Dale Zak on Facebook.

"I say make it hurt with a 500$ fine. Honestly they should be able to pull the sim card, give it to the owner and smash the dam phone ... have a good day," said Allister9 on www.huffingtonpost.ca/alberta.

Although the reaction from readers was overwhelmingly against confiscating phones for distracted driving offences, Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver told The Calgary Sun drivers in the province shouldn't worry.

“It’s interesting ... but it’s not a road we are entertaining going down,” McIver told the Sun.

McIver's comments seem to douse the flames fanned last week by Alberta Solicitor General Jonathan Dennis.

Dennis had originally said he was "watching with interest," the outcome of the proposal by police in B.C.