04/16/2015 07:00 EDT | Updated 07/02/2015 11:59 EDT

Yukon government appeals 'hands-free' cellphone ruling

A Yukon government lawyer was in a Whitehorse courtroom yesterday arguing the meaning of "'hands-free," in the territory's appeal of a recent decision to toss a ticket given to a man who was using his cellphone while driving.

Territorial Court Judge Don Luther decided in January that Ian Pumphrey did not violate Yukon's laws governing the use of electronic devices while driving.

Pumphrey was on the road with his cellphone wedged between his shoulder and his ear, on speaker phone.

Luther dismissed the ticket, saying the law allows for the use of hands-free electronic devices. 

"There is nothing to preclude his having it on his shoulder in speakerphone format," he wrote in his decision. 

But at the appeal, heard in the Yukon Supreme Court yesterday, a government lawyer argued the judge was being too literal in interpreting the meaning of hands-free.

"Hands-free doesn't just mean without hands," lawyer Karen Wenckeback told the court. "It should be given its ordinary meaning."

Wenckeback said it's "absurd" to call a phone wedged between a person's shoulder and head a "hands-free" device.

Pumphrey, representing himself at the appeal hearing, said the government is wasting time and money, and argued the more sensible approach would be to clarify the legislation.

"They only have to do it by way of Order in Council because the legislation allows for that, to narrow the scope of what people are allowed to do," said Pumphrey,

​He said the government has wasted weeks of his time, and he wants compensation of up to $15,000 for the time he's invested in the appeal.

The judge has reserved his decision.