ontario driver flute

Ontario motorist charged for playing the flute with both hands while driving

Being drunk, texting, indecently exposing one's self to a bus full of children; every Ontario driver should know that it's illegal to do any of these things behind the wheel of a car (or anywhere, ever, for the latter offence.)

But playing a musical instrument while operating a motor vehicle? They don't warn against that in driver's ed class — probably because the instructors assume that nobody could be that reckless or dumb.

Alas, as the Burlington division of the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) confirmed on Wednesday, at least one local was in need of specific directions not to play flute and drive.

The police service just west of Toronto reports that a traffic officer was "conducting distracted driver enforcement" on Wednesday when they spotted a potential violation. 

Expecting the driver in question to be holding a cell phone, the officer was instead "a little surprised" to find the guy performing a flute solo instead.

Police said on Twitter that the driver was "playing his flute with both hands and following along to an iPod while driving," using the hashtag #FlutesAndDrivingDontMix to send the message home.

The unidentified male driver was charged, though police did not say what for.

Under Ontario's distracted driving laws, penalties for which include fines of up to $1,000 and three demerit points upon first conviction, the use of all hand-held electronic communication and entertainment devices is banned, as are certain display screens.

The provincial government's website states clearly that, whether actively moving, stopped in traffic or waiting at a red light, it is illegal to use hand-held devices such as phones, tablets and portable gaming consoles while driving.

Interestingly enough, the government also explicitly states that "actions such as eating, drinking, grooming, smoking, reading and reaching for objects are not part of Ontario's distracted driving law."

Rather, drivers applying lipstick or eating cereal behind the wheel can be charged with the more serious criminal offence of dangerous driving, which carries a minimum fine of $1,000 and a maximum penalty of up to life in prison, should someone be killed.

Playing the flute with two hands presumably falls under this same category, so play it safe flautists — there's no need to jam on the woodwind while driving, no matter how bad traffic gets.

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