California upholds no map apps while driving law
Now would be a good time for California drivers to invest in hands-free GPS systems.
Wed, Apr 10 2013 at 10:51 AM
In California, no means no — drivers may not use their hands to operate a mobile phone, even if they're looking at a map for directions.
While that may seem like common sense to most people, a case recently went to trial over a man cited for violating the state's "no texting while driving law." His attorneys claimed that texting did not include using a map app.
The man in question, Steven Spriggs, was pulled over while stopped at an intersection in Fresno, Calif., for referring to a map on his phone. He was slapped with $160 in fines, according to a report in the Sacramento Bee.
Spriggs brought a paper map to court, questioning why that map was okay, but a digital one was not. Judge Brian Alvarez was not impressed, disagreed and wrote a lengthy — 8 page — explanation.
"Our review of the statute's plain language leads us to conclude that the primary evil sought to be avoided is the distraction the driver faces when using his or her hands to operate the phone," Alvarez wrote. "That distraction would be present whether the wireless telephone was being used as a telephone, a GPS navigator, a clock or a device for sending and receiving text messages and emails."
While the law is informally referred to as "no texting," California vehicle code section 231123 wording is clear.
"A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving."
Sounds like there's room for a tablet dispute.
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