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Driver convicted of using an iPod

The definition of the word “use” became the focal point of a trial in Magistrates' Court after a woman denied driving while using a hand-held device.

Catherine Farnsworth, 30, agreed that she was listening to an iPod while driving along Front Street.

However she insisted she wasn't holding it in her hand and at no point while riding did she use her hands to operate the device.

Crown counsel Garrett Byrne argued that by listening to music she was using the device.

And he said, that Ms Farnsworth needed to hold the device in her hand in order to turn it on.

The court earlier heard that Ms Farnsworth was stopped by police at around 7.53am on January 5 after an officer noticed white chords running from either side of her helmet to an iPod attached to her jacket.

The court heard that she was not speeding, did not appear to be distracted and was not stopped because of the quality of her driving.

Ms Farnsworth told the court that she turned on the device and placed it on her jacket before getting on her bike, and didn't touch the device again until after she had stopped.

She argued that listening to an iPod while riding is not an offence under the law, noting that the Ministry of Transportation stated in January that using a hands-free kit for a cell phone is permitted as long as the motorist does not hold them continuously in their hand.

Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner responded that the Ministry's interpretation of the law may not be correct.

He noted that while the legislation makes it an offence to use a hand-held electronic device while driving, it fails to define the word “use”.

Mr Warner explained that when a word is not defined within legislation, common practice is to use the word's usual definition, which in the case of “use” is particularly broad.

Reading a section of the Oxford English Reference Dictionary, he said the definitions of the word include to act or serve a purpose, to bring into service, to avail oneself, to consume by eating or drinking, to employ for your own use, and to be available to be used.

Such a broad definition, he suggested, could be seen as meaning that simply having a device such as a cell phone or an iPod on your person while driving could be considered an offence against the act.

“This seems to be a straight forward matter, but not a simple matter,” Mr Warner said.

Mr Warner determined that Ms Farnsworth had been using the iPod and found her guilty of the offence, fining her $500 and issuing seven demerit points.

However, he told Ms Farnsworth that she has the option to appeal the ruling.

“I am not a God down here,” Mr Warner said. “It's your right to appeal to the Supreme Court.”

Ms Farnsworth told

The Royal Gazette that she is considering appealing the judgement.

Catherine Farnborough was found guilty of riding and listening to an iPod illegally.(Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published March 29, 2012 at 9:00 am (Updated March 29, 2012 at 9:41 am)

Driver convicted of using an iPod

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