Back in January of 2012, Steven Spriggs was cited for using a cellphone while driving in California, violating the state's Vehicle Code Section 23123 that makes it illegal for someone to drive "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." In this case, though, while Spriggs did have the phone in his hands, he was using it to check directions on Google Maps, not make a phone a call or send a text.

Spriggs appealed the citation, but according to Digital Trends, Judge Kent Hamlin of the Fresno County Superior Court has ruled against him. Hamlin's eight-page decision asserted that the law prohibiting drivers from using their hands to operate their cellphones to make calls and send texts didn't mean they could manually operate their phones for some other purpose, like getting directions; Hamlin reasoned that the law's intent was to prevent all manual operation of the cellphone to curb distracted driving.

Hamlin felt this even though Sprigg argued that when the original law specified voice calls, it was felt necessary to append the law to add texting to its purview. Using that example, if the law didn't specify the other operations it covered, then it shouldn't apply to those other operations. Hamlin's decision countered that there was no legislative history that demonstrated the bill's original supporters didn't want texting covered by the law originally, and that since the purpose of the "plain language" of the law is to eliminate the distraction of manually using one's phone while driving, that any such use is automatically covered.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 82 Comments
      Chris
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yes. Clearly a fail at titling the article--BUT, this ridiculous, selective prohibition of arbitrary things in the name of curbing distracted driving accidents needs to come to an end. I am NOT for texting and driving, or even talking on the cell phone while driving. But, when studies have shown that more accidents are caused by a failure to signal, and when cell phones are singled out (but not smoking, putting on makeup, reading a map or a book), I can't help but think that legislators are looking for easy "look at me I did something for my state" opportunities than seriously taking a look at the root causes of many car accidents. The bigger issues to me are people who drive with a sense of entitlement, skipping the long line of cars waiting their turn by racing up the adjacent lane and then cutting someone off. Additionally, people who try to be "nice" and let cars enter traffic when there are multiple lanes of traffic (only one of which they have any kind of control over). People need to learn to wait their turn and let others wait their turn. Bypassing the right-of-way laws isn't being nice, it's creating increased potential for dangerous traffic accidents.
        Israel Isassi
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Chris
        While I agree with what you are saying, I do believe a reason that texting/talking isn't causing more accidents is because people have learned how to spot those drivers. I can't count how many times I see someone suddenly drop speed because their phone rang. It's like they take their foot of the gas pedal immediately. Also, frequently I see people weaving all over the road worse than a drunk driver due to texting/phone calls. I was on a motorcycle when I was hit by a drunk driver many years ago, and I'm more afraid of someone texting thatn a drunk driver. I can't vouch for the rest of the world, but Houston, TX would be better off if phones didn't function at all when the car was moving.
      JDubbs115
      • 1 Year Ago
      Flannel shirt + long beard + tie-dye sunglasses = hipster douchebag. Maximum fine allowed by law, please. Ugh...
        Ken
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JDubbs115
        Don't forget, tacky steering-wheel cover :)
      scotsboys2
      • 1 Year Ago
      The law should be applied equally. Law enforcement officers can talk on cell phones and have laptops in their patrol cars. If distracted driving is just as bad as drunk driving, then there should be no less than two officers per patrol car; one to drive and one to navigate devices. That may be the case elsewhere, but it certainly isn't in San Diego.
      Jonathan Wayne
      • 1 Year Ago
      But police officers can drive around with a giant laptop running in their car that they are operating while driving. Umm okay.
      vizcarmb
      • 1 Year Ago
      When did we stop using common sense?
      BKdroid
      • 1 Year Ago
      So did one person write the title, and another write the article? Because they say two completely different things. One says "GOOGLE MAPS OUTLAWED!!" the other says "Don't drive with your phone in front of your face, idiot".
      Leather Bear
      • 1 Year Ago
      I believe the issue is holding the device in your hand and trying to program it while driving (just about as bad as texting IMHO). Instead, why not buy a $20 dash mount (like I did) for smart phone navigation purposes? Pop your phone into the mount, run a USB adapter cable to the 12v power outlet, program the destination, and away you go. I hardly ever resort to my Garmin anymore.
      capn233
      • 1 Year Ago
      You can thank all the idiots driving (poorly) while texting or with a phone glued to their ear for this. Also, it has been shown repeatedly that someone's ability to focus on driving is diminished simply by talking to a person they cannot see, whether that be over a handheld phone, hands free phone, or potentially even in the rear of the vehicle.
      NY EVO X MR GUY
      • 1 Year Ago
      Okay, you can use garmin or tom tom, but can't use Google maps on your cell? Okay. People, buy a tablet and use Google maps on that. See. Its not a cellphone.
      Scarboy6693
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just Set the directions on it before driving and get a windshield or vent mount to stick the phone on. Google Maps does have built in turn by turn so why hold it in your hand and run the risk anyways? Especially when you can get a car mount for around $20-$25
        daewootech
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scarboy6693
        but the judge is trying to dispute that the "law is to eliminate the distraction of manually using one's phone while driving, that any such use is automatically covered" which means using it at all without automatic functions is illegal, if you have it on a dock on your windshield and you reach up to touch to confirm a direction reroute or navigation change that's manually using you phone.
      SloopJohnB
      • 1 Year Ago
      Appeal will win. The legislative history interpretation by the judge is just that, and it will likely be reversed. The law is, specifically, the law.
      Joseph
      • 1 Year Ago
      Do I understand this correctly? You can not touch your phone at all for anything while driving, BUT you can touch the infotainment screen till the cows come home, and they are on the shelf at McDonald's so they ain't coming back. Please tell me this makes sense cause as I see this the infotainment system should be removed from the vehicle A.S.A.P., no radio, no CB, no CD Player, children must be gagged (are we there yet? are we there yet? ), pets kept in soundproof compartments the trunk, ( maybe that's where the kids should be also), oh yes, cup holders removed, Drive thru restaurant windows closed ( no putting ketchup on that cheeseburger at 70 MPH ). Now we are getting there, in fact the driver should be isolated from any and all possible distractions in a self enclosed envelope while the subliminal suggestions to "pay attention to your driving" is repeated as long as the vehicle is occupied. Remember that driving is a privilege, not a right. Those confounding Founding Fathers did not have the foresight to include " The people shall not have their Right To Drive infringed upon" in the Constitution, Should have been the Third Amendment. 1.Say what you want, 2.Protect yourself, 3.Drive it like you stole it.
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