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California judge says drivers cannot check maps on their handset while driving; all excuses are now shot down

Posted: , by Alan F.

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California judge says drivers cannot check maps on their handset while driving; all excuses are now shot down
In some states where talking on a cellphone is prohibited while driving, those pulled over by the cops used to get away with the excuse that they weren't in a conversation, they were just checking the map on their phone. Now this would work depending on how knowledgeable the cop who pulled you over was. Tell the officer that you were using Apple Maps and he might have requested a psychological evaluation for you. Heck, in Florida, using Apple Maps might have led the cop to 'Baker Act' you (Google it).

The heart of the case from the judge's ruling

The heart of the case from the judge's ruling

Seriously though, using the excuse that you were using a mapping application in the past would have helped you escape a ticket for operating a cell phone while driving. It seems that while the police hate distracted drivers, they hate lost drivers wandering around their fair city even more. A judge in California has changed things and might have set a precedent for future cases. Judge W. Kent Hamlin has just made a ruling that in California drivers cannot do anything with their cell phone while driving a car. The case involved one Steven Spriggs who had been ticketed by the popo and appealed saying that he should not have been cited for using the cellphone while driving for something other than receiving or making a call. Spriggs had claimed that he was using his phone's mapping application while driving.   

The judge made his ruling simple and to the point. "This case requires us to determine whether using a wireless phone solely for its map application function while driving violates Vehicle Code section 23123.1 We hold that it does." The judge broadened the scope of the law by noting that distracted driving is distracted driving regardless if the driver is making a call or using a mapping application, sending or receiving texts or even using the phone for navigation. He asked himself if the original founding fathers of this great nation those who wrote the bill or supported it meant to limit its application. In his ruling, the judge decided that the law was meant to cover all distractions. Judgment for the plaintiff. Whack. We wonder what Judge Judy would think.

source: PCMag

47 Comments
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posted on 07 Apr 2013, 00:18 8

1. tedkord (Posts: 4991; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


This law is about three things: revenue, revenue, revenue.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 00:56 23

6. Timmehor (Posts: 599; Member since: 09 Mar 2013)


The law is also about three more things: safety, safety, safety.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 03:49 2

17. jacko1977 (Posts: 396; Member since: 11 Feb 2012)


if that was true then why do we get fines if its about safety

why not take his licence off him for a week

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 13:17 2

28. tedkord (Posts: 4991; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Because if you ground the driver, it's tougher to get a repeat fine from him. If you give him a fine, them out him back on the road, there's a chance you can ticket him for something else, and get more revenue.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 12:21 2

24. tedkord (Posts: 4991; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


No, it isn't. How is taking on a phone more dangerous than taking to a passenger? How is holding a phone any more dangerous than holding a soda?

If this we're truly about safety, it wouldn't be a simple fine. There would be true consequences. This law was written ONLY to create revenue.

Texting while driving? Yes, absolutely dangerous. Dialing? Yep. Simply talking? No.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 15:05

33. darkkjedii (Posts: 12041; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


100% agreed +1 Ted.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 19:55 1

39. microsoftnokiawin (Posts: 977; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)


uhm lets see
taking a phone requires your full attention when you use you stare at the screen you use one hand to operate it. while taking a passanger sits next you and talks to you at the most. and oh yeah lets f**k*n put everyone that breaks the road law in jail that will solve everything fines discourages you from breaking the law that's why it's there you do it more than once then comes more consquences

what does these things have anything to do with banning using maps

posted on 08 Apr 2013, 04:11 1

43. tedkord (Posts: 4991; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Hey, genius - I said that dialing while driving was dangerous. Talking on the phone does not require looking at the phone. I requires no more distraction than talking to a passenger.

The law doesn't say that dialing the phone is illegal, it says that talking is. The cop doesn't need to see you dialing while driving, only talking. Not even talking - just holding a phone up to your ear. Which, again, is no more distracting than changing a radio channel.

Which brings us back to the central point - these laws are not passed for safety, they are passed to create revenue streams. Period.

posted on 08 Apr 2013, 05:19

45. Timmehor (Posts: 599; Member since: 09 Mar 2013)


That's your opinion. Period. :)

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 01:00 2

7. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5880; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Yes and no. Somehow, I suspect that ole Steven was using his cellular as a phone jammed up against his ear. There is an exception:

23123. (a) 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.

Note the part of the section that starts with "...unless that telephone is specifically designed..." Most every smartphone I know of is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 15:04

32. darkkjedii (Posts: 12041; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Safety is a must though Ted, even though you're right about revenue. These laws are set in a way that allows the driver to shoot his or herself in their own foot. Obey and be safe, break it and add to the revenue stream.

posted on 08 Apr 2013, 04:21 2

44. tedkord (Posts: 4991; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Except this is supposed to be the land of the free. Our government isn't supposed to be setting us up to "shoot ourselves in the foot" to create more revenue for them to spend.

Look at what most police departments do these days - traffic and drugs. Why? Because those are money makers. Call the cops to tell them your house has been robbed, and you know what will happen? They will take a statement, and that's it. If your items happen to fall into their laps by accident, you might get them back. But there will be no investigation once they leave your premises. Because finding your stolen items brings in zero revenue.

I have been at council meetings where the councilmen complain that the cops aren't writing enough tickets, not bringing in enough revenue. "To protect and serve" has become "to collect(revenue) and serve(fines)".

posted on 08 Apr 2013, 07:30

46. darkkjedii (Posts: 12041; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Damn that's deep bro. You're rite too

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 00:21 6

2. LDC207X (Posts: 22; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)


I never thought that talking on your phone looks like your using maps. Whenever I see a person talking on their phone i just assume there using the GPS.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 00:31 1

3. Bernoulli (Posts: 1453; Member since: 01 Sep 2012)


Hahaha that last part! We wonder what judge Lucy may think lol if using apple maps requires psychological evaluation, does that mean that if we use Nokia maps we can get away with speeding? And even then Nokia maps goes to red and alerts you when you go over the speed limit of a certain area

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 00:32 10

4. dexter_jdr (Posts: 1149; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)


if the phone was attached to the car and in the map view, i would not consider it as distracting drivers while driving. but guiding drivers as the phone will be considered as a navigation device, or a digital map. as long as the driver is not holding the phone while driving.

but operating it in hand, thats a different story. you should pull over first before using the phone

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 11:48 4

23. Zero0 (Posts: 583; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


You hit the nail on the head.

If GPS devices are allowed, using a phone as a GPS is allowed. Setting a destination while driving, that's a different story.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 00:36

5. clevername (Posts: 1429; Member since: 11 Jul 2008)


Hmmm... I wonder if this ruling can actually set the precedent for making all use of a smartphone illegal in California. I wonder this but cause as of January 1st this year, a new law here in California made it perfectly legal to text while driving as long as some sort of voice to text functionality was being used. Also, the law states that speaking through a hands free wired or wireless component is legal as well.

so this judges ruling seems to contradict 2 previously enacted laws. I know when a supreme court judge makes a ruling it can be used as precedent to change laws. But it never says this judge is a supreme court judge.

the ruling also states "when using ones hands" so does that mean voice guided turn by turn navigation is ok?

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 02:37

10. TheMan (Posts: 412; Member since: 21 Sep 2012)


Precedents are not limited to Supreme Court decisions. Also, it sounds like the judge was debating which is the overriding factor, the letter or the spirit of the law. He seems to favor the latter, i.e., distracted drivers can be lethal and phones can distract in a multitude of ways, not just by talking or texting (that's the truth!)

The law specifies "hands-free" device. If he wanted to use it for navigation and not get pulled over, he should use a navigation mount.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 19:58 1

40. microsoftnokiawin (Posts: 977; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)


it's using maps as in holding your phones in your hand scrolling around the map with your hand voice guided turn by turn is ok

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 01:42 1

8. BadAssAbe (Posts: 434; Member since: 22 Apr 2011)


So I can't use my driving apps anymore?

So, many rules to protect ourselves form ourselves.

Please let natural selection take its course faster for all mankind

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 03:11 4

13. Timmehor (Posts: 599; Member since: 09 Mar 2013)


Yes, let people crash and hurt each other for little reasons. Yesssss. Natural Selection isn't about who survives a car crash from an idiot too busy on their mobile phone.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 02:25 1

9. xperiaDROID (Posts: 5595; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


That's why we must use Google Now,
That's why we must use S Voice,
That's why we must use Siri.
(Just say a command, and WALLA!. The Map appears!)

Using these will prevent accidents, we are protected with Safety.......Safety........Safety........

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 02:54 3

11. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3013; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


It's not spelled "WALLA", it's 'Voila'...lol.
But according to me, anything that takes the concentration out of the drivers view of the road and mind is a distraction.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 03:05 1

12. xperiaDROID (Posts: 5595; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


Eh? "WALLA" is wrong?

And what's so difficult to say a command, we have 2 eyes and 1 mouth, we can concentrate on driving and saying a command at the same time. :)

It's very simple, c'est très simple.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 03:14 6

14. Timmehor (Posts: 599; Member since: 09 Mar 2013)


Fun fact: Humans cannot actually multitask. Our brain just quickly switches and jumps from each task. Car crashes can be fatal, and there is no way of fixing that :) So lets not risk it, keep our eyes/mind on the road. Why can't we just set the GPS when getting in? But voice commands are probably the safest alternative.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 03:28

16. xperiaDROID (Posts: 5595; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


The best thing is buying an expensive car, with touch screen GPS Navigation built in the radio, with voice command.
OH, WHAT ON EARTH AM I TALKING ABOUT?

By the way, I agree with you. For more simple and safety, we can just buy a Garmin GPS Navigation unit. There, just waste a hundred dollar and we can begin our journey. :)

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 08:01 1

19. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3013; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


Yes, the spelling is wrong but the way you say it is similar. If you spell it the way they say it, literally, it will spell somewhat like "Vwala(h)".
There are tasks which humans can do together like you can sing and cook...you can run and talk, but when you do something with your right hand and try a totally different thing with your left, they will either try to synchronize, or you'll mess it up. Not saying there are none that can multitask, there are certain humans that are gifted to multitask.
Not everyone is 'that' gifted :)

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 19:21

37. Timmehor (Posts: 599; Member since: 09 Mar 2013)


Why are we arguing about how to say " Vwalah" to "Wallah". This is PhoneArena god dammit. XD

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 23:43 1

42. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3013; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


There's so much correction going on, i'm entitled to one, atleast, lol.
I get distracted when i read someone type a word wrong, might not make sense to you, i'm just doing myself a favor, :D

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 12:26

25. tedkord (Posts: 4991; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


All of those still require a button push, ie. not hands free.

The only reason hands free is allowed is that it's impossible for cops to tell. If they could find a way of monetizing that, hands free would be illegal, too.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 03:22

15. kabhijeet.16 (Posts: 654; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)


I feel everything that can cause a distraction while driving should be avoided. Navigation apps should be used hands-free using turn-by-turn voice navigation where we dont have to look at the screen of the mobile. Law is correct that anything which causes distraction of a driver can cause accidents, hence must be avoided.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 12:28

26. tedkord (Posts: 4991; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Better ban radios in cars. And passengers. Those naughty buggers like to talk, and taking is a distraction. Right?

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 07:05

18. kowings85 (Posts: 2; Member since: 25 Mar 2013)


That's just plain stupid in my opinion. So it's okay to check a regular map that would cause a lot more distraction, than taking 2 seconds to glance at something much like you would to see how fast you were going.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 08:38

20. GoBears (Posts: 369; Member since: 27 Apr 2012)


Keep your eyes on the road and a hand on the wheel. If you find that too difficult then you shouldn't be behind the wheel period. I couldn't care less if crash and kill yourself but idiots are swerving into oncoming traffic and killing other people. If caught using your phone while vehicle is moving it should be a six month suspension just like boozing because it's every bit as dangerous.Good for you California. Also, I hope this law apples to your law enforcement as well. I see a lot of cops around here with their ears and faces buried as well.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 12:31

27. tedkord (Posts: 4991; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


It won't be a suspension, because the law isn't about safety, it's about revenue. It's about monetizing a behavior. If you suspend someone's license, you can't hand them more driving fines during that period.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 08:50 1

21. Jack58221 (Posts: 131; Member since: 23 Feb 2013)


Minnesota needs to get on board with this somewhat. Last week while driving bus through Minneapolis stuck in a traffic jam had a guy with whisky plates and watching porn on his galaxy note. Nothing like someone prone to stunning and driving watching porn in a traffic jam.

Minnesota, you get 2 DWI's and you get plates on tippy car that start with a W for the next several years.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 11:19 2

22. lyndon420 (Posts: 1772; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)


"Honestly officer, I was only using my phone to beat my kids over the head because they wouldn't shut the hell up". Kids are a huge distraction and should not be allowed to ride inside the car. When they make it illegal for kids to be in a moving vehicle...I'll be moving to California.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 19:22

38. darkkjedii (Posts: 12041; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Damn Lyndon LMAOOOOO... You went hardcore bro +1

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 13:38

29. DigitalBoy05 (Posts: 203; Member since: 04 Jun 2011)


everyone seems to be forgetting that in order to use a voice command on a smartphone you have to touch the phone in some way, immediately making you breaking the law. its sort of a catch-22.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 13:53

30. MyJobSux (Posts: 82; Member since: 01 Apr 2012)


Scanned all the posts and only saw where tedkord mentioned car radios. Without more backstory its hard to really judge this guy but if the phone were to be in a mount and a person was to answer a call or push to see what directions were coming up then i think thats fine. Using the radio, gps, etc on a car is just if not more distracting. I noticed on a newer vehical that the factory GPS would not allow you to insert a destination without being stopped. Its hard to do that with a cell phone since the phone cant tell if your the driver or a passenger although there are probably apps out there to mimic this and can be disabled when you are the passenger.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 14:23

31. ICronIC (Posts: 2; Member since: 07 Apr 2013)


Even many handsfree "configured" smartphone navigation apps require you to briefly touch the screen to begin route navigation. I think the point in the judge's decision is why bother trying to discern WHY the cell phone is being touched?

If the officer observes you fiddling with the phone, you can be cited. I don't agree with this, but only because it should be the same for ANY distraction. If you're juggling CD's, applying makeup, shaving, dipping french fries into the ketchup while trying not to ruin your tie, DWD Driving While Distracted should be considered an offense.

Likewise for walking, bicycling, jogging, juggling, iPoding with earbuds or anything else where a non-driver carelessly walks in front of a moving vehicle without noticing imminent life-threatening danger

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 16:20

34. ibap (Posts: 703; Member since: 09 Sep 2009)


Radios? Dedicated GPS units? Changing a CD? Putting on makeup? Arguing with someone in the car? Baby in the back seat? Attractive girl/boy on the sidewalk?

I actually yell at drivers talking on their phone while executing some maneuver - in parking lots or turning corners. Put the darn thing down!

There needs to be some sense here. But a phone in your hand while the car is moving is too big a distraction, whatever you're using it for. Pull over!

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 18:04

35. Daftama (Posts: 565; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)


So GSP in the car shoukd be out of the ?

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 20:03

41. GoBears (Posts: 369; Member since: 27 Apr 2012)


What the h3ll does St. Pierre have to do with any of this? LOL just kidding, know you meant GPS but had to throw that out there.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 18:23

36. lonewolf2873 (Posts: 40; Member since: 21 Nov 2012)


As others have stated, this law is about money, not safety. There is no reason the law must be this vague. It is due to technology these laws even exist. I can agree driving while distracted should be illegal, just not in the petty sense like starting Google now.

posted on 08 Apr 2013, 22:55

47. roscuthiii (Posts: 1847; Member since: 18 Jul 2010)


So... no map app allowed in CA, but what if the driver actually has one of those big foldable paper maps? Is there a yea or nay on them, because they kinda seem more distracting than a smartphone.

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