Canadian fined for using Apple Watch while at a red light

Published: June 27, 2018

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



Late for work? Don’t think about checking your watch or you could face a distracted charge, especially if you have a wearable device. The National Post reports a woman from Guelph, Ontario was found guilty after being charged with distracted driving for looking at her Apple Watch. She claimed she was checking the time on the connected device.

A judge in the Ontario Court of Justice found Victoria Ambrose (the driver) guilty of looking at her smartwatch for too long, distracting her from the road. The penalty for the offence was a $400 fine.

Ambrose’s car was stationary at the time as she had stopped at a red light. She was looking at the Apple Watch when a University of Guelph officer pulled alongside her vehicle and give her a ticket after pulling over to the side of the road.

Ambrose and the cautioning officer have contrasting stories. The officer says Ambrose checked her device up to four times while at the stop. He says she was distracted enough to not pull away immediately when the light turned green, while he needed to shine a light into the car to get her attention.

Contesting that account, Ambrose says she glanced at the Apple Watch to check the time. On the wearable device, users must tap the screen once to see the time, and a second tap to deactivate the screen. Ambrose also believes a smartwatch should be defined as a mountable device and not handheld. The former is legal to use in vehicles, while the latter is illegal when driving.

Justice of the Peace Lloyd Phillipps, who oversaw the case, didn’t accept Amrbose’s side of the story. He said a smartwatch is equally as dangerous as a smartphone and an equal distraction:

“It is abundantly clear from the evidence that Ms. Ambrose was distracted when the officer made his observations,” Phillipps said.