Over-policing: Judge cancels traffic ticket

Sunday, July 21, 2019, 19:07 Honenu: “Recently the phenomenon of over-policing has been added to the familiar harassment of Yehuda and Shomron residents by the Israeli Police in the form of false detentions late at night. We regard this phenomenon with severity. The police are responsible for increasing safety and security on the road, and not implementing a policy of harassment and scare tactics targeting one population or another. Who in the upper echelons is still continuing the astronomical budgets for the scandalous conduct of the Yehuda and Shomron District Police?” In a recent decision, Jerusalem Traffic Court Judge Nir Nachshon ordered the cancellation of Ya’ir Kehati’s traffic ticket, with which he was unjustifiably served by a policeman, whose claim was that the driver “held a phone on his lap” while driving. The ticket included a 1,000 NIS fine and eight points. Kehati had filed a complaint against the policeman with the Police Investigation Unit (PIU), which was not registered. Recently he filed an additional complaint with the Public Complaints Officer of the Israeli Police. The incident occurred approximately one year ago, late at night when Kehati was returning home to the Shilo region with several passengers. When they reached the gate of Shevut Rachel a policeman stopped them and demanded that everyone in the car present their identification cards. Kehati wrote in his complaint that “I drove the car off to the dirt at the side of the road, so that I would not block the road and I stopped in order to present my identification card. After taking out my identification card I started to film. The policeman took the identification cards – except for one woman’s – and walked towards the police car.” Kehati described being served with the ticket, “He asked me to move up a bit, for no obvious reason. I suspected that he wanted me to drive while filming with my phone in my hand. I placed the phone on my lap and moved up a bit, about two meters. He immediately came from the police car and told me that I drove with my phone on my lap and that he was giving me a 1,000 NIS ticket and eight points.” Kehati told the policeman his version of the incident, and in the video clip one can hear him telling the policeman, “You tricked me.” The policeman also blinded him with his flashlight. Kehati added, “I had to argue with him for him to write down what I asked him. In the end the wrote on the ticket my reaction.” A dispute ensued between Kehati and the policeman regarding the latter’s obligation to give his name to Kehati. Kehati refused to sign the ticket because, “I saw that he had written that I handled the phone while driving.” Kehati demanded to be tried in court for the incident and represented himself. During the hearing the policeman specifically mentioned that, “When he started driving the phone was on his lap. Both of his hands were on the steering wheel, but the phone was on his lap.” The policeman claimed that driving with a phone on one’s lap constitutes a violation. Kehati countered that it did not matter where he put the phone as long as both of his hands were on the steering wheel. Judge Nahshon exonerated Kehati from the violation. In his decision he wrote that “I was not convinced that the prosecution proved that there was a complete basis for the violation. The prosecution did not prove that the defendant held the phone while the vehicle was in motion. Furthermore, the witness for the prosecution discerned that the defendant held the steering wheel with both of his hands when he began driving.” Also, “The steering wheel must be held with both hands. Therefore the main factor of the violation of using a phone is derived from not holding the wheel with both hands. When this factor is not present, there is no violation.”

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