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Charges likely for using hand-held Dictaphone in car

Published May 21, 2010


Q: Is it legal to use a hand-held dictaphone while driving?

A: Ontario Transportation Ministry spokesperson Bob Nichols replies:

Ontario’s new distracted driving law makes it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held cellphones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices. A Dictaphone could be considered an electronic entertainment device whose primary use is unrelated to the safe operation of a motor vehicle. Any charge would be at the discretion of police. Hands-free use of these devices would still be permitted.

Also, if the device has a display screen visible to the driver, its use while driving would also be prohibited by the new law.

It is important to remember that anyone who chooses to put others at risk by driving while distracted, for whatever reason, can still be charged with careless driving or even dangerous driving (a criminal offence).

Safe driving requires your undivided attention and drivers need to focus on the task at hand.

Eric Lai adds:

Nichols previously advised that citizens’ band (CB) radios used by truckers are not considered hand-held devices, since they are hardwired into the vehicle, and are not prohibited under the new law. But if you were to use a wireless hand-held portable CB radio or walkie-talkie while driving, you may be subject to charges.

Q: Further to your May 15 article, would my daughter-in-law qualify as a close family member to transfer ownership of a vehicle to me tax-free?

A: According to the website of the Ministry of Transportation for Ontario (, the following relatives qualify as a “close family member” and may give you a gift of a tax-free used motor vehicle:


Parent or step-parent


Son or step-son

Daughter or step-daughter

Grandson or granddaughter

Step-grandson or Step-granddaughter





Both parties must attend at a Vehicle Licence Issuing Office and make a sworn statement that the vehicle is a gift between family members. Only one tax-free transfer per vehicle is allowed every 12-months within close family.

As an added benefit, such transfers are excluded from the normal requirement to purchase a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP).

Diplomats and Status Indians are also exempt from retail sales tax on vehicle transfers.

Q: Is there any organization in Ontario that will handle complaints and act as a go-between when car repair charges done by a garage or dealership are disputed? This is where, due to incorrect analysis and/or installation, parts that were functional when the car was delivered for repair are damaged during the replacement of other parts?

A: The Ontario Ministry of Government Services ( encompasses the former Ministry of Consumer and Business Services, and is responsible for investigating allegations of unfair business practices.

To report an incident, you may contact the Consumer Protection Services Bureau of MGS toll-free at 1-800-889-9768.

Note that while this provincial law enforcement agency may bring charges against businesses suspected of violating consumers’ rights, it’s not their duty to resolve your monetary dispute. That would be the job of a Small Claims Court Justice, should you decide to proceed in this manner.

Alternatively, consumer organizations, such as Car Help Canada ( or the Automobile Protection Association (, do provide mediation services for members with a dispute against a service garage or other automotive-related business. Annual membership dues apply.

You can send your non-mechanical questions to Eric Lai at Include year, make, model and kilometres of autos cited, plus your name, address and telephone number. Personal replies cannot be handled due to volume.