POLITICS
07/27/2011 12:22 EDT | Updated 09/26/2011 05:12 EDT

Mayor Rob Ford won't be charged for talking on cellphone while driving: police

Flickr: The Enchanter Tim
TORONTO - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will not be charged after acknowledging he was talking on his cellphone while driving, police said Wednesday.

No charges have been pursued against other motorists who admitted after the fact to driving while talking on the phone and equal treatment will be given to the mayor, said Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash.

"We haven't had a case where we felt it was necessary or appropriate to take the matter any further," Pugash said in an interview.

"There are some logistical problems with doing it after the fact, but if it was a situation where we felt it was appropriate we'd certainly consider it."

The mayor denied Tuesday a post on Facebook — which gained a lot of media attention in the city — that said he gave a woman the finger while he was driving in the city's downtown last Friday.

Ottilie Mason said the mayor made the gesture to her and her daughter after she told him to stop talking on his cellphone when he was behind the wheel and gave him the thumbs down.

Ford's press secretary Adrienne Batra said he was talking on his cellphone at the time the incident took place.

But she denied the mayor made any rude gestures. A statement from the mayor said it was a misunderstanding, although he has refused to speak publicly about it.

Police will not be pursuing charges in part because of the force's limited resources, Pugash said.

Pursuing charges against people who later admit to using their cellphones while driving can be very expensive and time-consuming for the force, he said, and can in some cases even force people to go to court.

Ironically, Ford is currently in the midst of a review of the city's expenditures which police Chief Bill Blair has warned could lead to a further reduction in the number of police officers available.

The penalty if caught talking on a cellphone while behind the wheel of a vehicle in Ontario is a fine of $155.

The Ontario Provincial Police says they charged 8,522 drivers last year for using a hand-held device while driving.

Ontario's ban on the use of cellphones, BlackBerrys and other hand-held electronic devices by drivers took effect in October 2009.

"I can say with pride that we have a law on the books ... and I also say with pride this law has been adopted in several other North American jurisdictions," Premier Dalton McGuinty said Wednesday when asked about the Ford situation. "It’s a matter of fundamental public safety on our roads and I would encourage all Ontarians to take that into account as they go about their daily business."

McGuinty, who said he didn't have any advice for Ford, was also asked if he has ever broken the rules.

"I don’t drive," he said.