Feeds

Yes: You CAN use your phone as a satnav while driving – appeals court

California judges rip up bloke's $165 ticket after two-year legal battle

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

An appeals court in California has told drivers they can view maps on a smartphone while driving.

The ruling was handed down on Thursday by the Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, in Fresno – and reverses an earlier case against a man, Steven Spriggs, who was given a ticket for looking at a map on his mobe.

California driving law states [PDF] that: "It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communication device to write, send, or read text messages, instant messages, and emails unless you are 18 years of age or older and using an electronic wireless communications device designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to text-based communications when operating a vehicle."

Under this interpretation of the law, Spriggs had been given a $165 fine in January 2012: while stopped in heavy traffic, Spriggs pulled out his phone in his vehicle to check a map app for a new route. But he was spotted by a California Highway Patrol cop, who issued him a ticket for violating Vehicle Code section 23123.

The driver challenged the ticket in traffic court and lost, then tried again in Fresno County Superior Court, where he lost again. After that Spriggs took his fight to the appellate court, which ultimately sided with him, reversing the judgment.

"Based on the legislative history of section 23123 and the statute's language, as well as the Legislature’s subsequent enactments of sections 23123.5 and 23124, we conclude that section 23123(a) does not prohibit all hand-held uses of a wireless telephone. Instead, it prohibits 'listening and talking' on the wireless telephone unless the telephone is used in a hands-free mode," the court wrote in its decision [PDF].

"Accordingly, Spriggs did not violate the statute when he held his cellular telephone in his hand and looked at a map application while driving and his conviction must be reversed."

Though Californians may breathe a sigh of relief at the opinion as it provides them protection against over-enthusiastic cops, there's already trouble brewing for adopters of a succeeding technology, Google Glass.

In October a woman was pulled over and cited for wearing the expensive techno-goggles while driving, but the ticket was dismissed in January on the grounds the device wasn't switched on at the time.

Still, seven US states are investigating a ban of wearable computers while driving due to safety concerns. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.