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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