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Newfoundland and Labrador cabinet minister denies distracted driving

A screen shot of a picture sent out Monday on Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne’s Twitter feed.
A screen shot of a picture sent out Monday on Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne’s Twitter feed. - Contributed

Gerry Byrne says a family member took a photo while Byrne was driving, not him

Did Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne commit an act of distracted driving on Monday?

Two pictures on Byrne’s Twitter feed show a vantage point from a car, passing over the Main Street Bridge in Corner Brook.

“I officially am the 258th vehicle to cross this bridge since 4:00 p.m. today,” Byrne wrote.

“Feeling very proud!”

The pictures, while unclear, appear to show the camera near the driver’s side of the car, while the car is in motion.

A number of people replied to the tweets, asking if Byrne was using his cellphone while driving across the bridge.

Byrne says it wasn’t him snapping the photos.

“The picture was taken from the back seat by a family member,” said Byrne.

“We’re pretty happy about the bridge reopening. It’s been a huge inconvenience for a while. So, basically, the pictures were taken from the back seat with the camera extended forward, just to take a quick look.”

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary did not reply to a request for comment by deadline about whether or not the images spur thoughts of a potential investigation.

On June 4, the provincial government enacted stiffer penalties for distracted driving. Should someone cause bodily harm as a result of distracted driving, the minimum fine is $2,000, with a maximum of $20,000 or up to two years in prison, or both. As well, there’s the risk of a suspended licence for five years and six demerit points.

While Byrne maintains it wasn’t him driving and using the phone, it’s not the first time a west coast cabinet minister had questions raised over the use of a phone behind the wheel.

In 2008, Humber West MHA and premier Danny Williams was spotted using his cellphone while driving in St. John’s. Williams admitted he did indeed break provincial law at the time and agreed to pay an associated ticket.

david.maher@thetelegram.com

Twitter: DavidMaherNL

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