June 17, 2018

Phone Ban Doesn't Include Maps

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Phone Ban Doesn't Include Maps

Ever consulted a map on your smartphone to find your way to the next listing? In California, a court has ruled that it’s OK to look at a digital map on your smartphone from behind the wheel, despite state laws that restrict phone use while driving.

The an appeals court clarified that California's law prohibits a driver from “holding a wireless telephone while conversing on it” but doesn’t cover looking at a phone while driving. The state passed a "distracted driver" law in 2006. Similar to other state laws, it allows drivers to talk on a wireless telephone that is configured for hands-free listening and talking. Texting and driving remains illegal under a separate law in the state.

This recent ruling has sparked nationwide attention over the use of cellphone maps while driving. A Fresno, Calif., man was ticketed $165 for looking at a map on his iPhone 4 while stuck in traffic. The driver, Steven Spriggs, challenged the fine and lost his case in traffic court. He appealed the decision to a three-judge panel in Fresno County Superior Court, in which he lost again. He then took his case to the appellate court, which sided with Spriggs that California’s law does not apply to looking at maps on cellphones while driving.

Though other states' distracted driving laws may still apply to drivers using map applications elsewhere, Spriggs' attorney Scott Reddie told the Associated Press that he is not familiar with other such cases.

Source: “California Court Okays Reading Maps on Phones While Driving,” TechSpot (Feb. 28, 2014) and “California Court: Drivers Can Read Cellphone Maps,” Associated Press (Feb. 27, 2014)

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