Saturday, March 01, 2014

Calif. court OKs smartphone maps use while driving

A legal loophole means that Steven Spriggs is no longer responsible for a $165 fine for reading a map on his smartphone while driving, but he's not necessarily pleased with the result. The California resident wants the state's laws rewritten so they would cover his case, he told the AP on Thursday.

On Thursday, the 5th District Court of Appeals reversed an earlier ruling in the case of a Fresno man who was ticketed in January of 2012 for looking at a map on his iPhone 4. Stopped by roadwork, Spriggs grabbed his cellphone to find an alternate route. A CHP officer on a motorcycle saw him and wrote a ticket.

Although there are two laws in the state covering cell phone use while driving, they cover "texting while driving" and "talking on cellphones without a hands-free device." They were not written to cover other types of use, the court said. Based on this ruling, a driver could -- technically -- legally search for Youtube videos, play Candy Crush, or whatever, as long as it wasn't texting or talking.

Spriggs said, though, that he's not championing the cause of those who might want to do those types of behaviors -- and honestly, we've all seen people looking into their lap, or even clearly violating the texting and talking laws. Spriggs wants the law rewritten to be clearer.

He said:
We're distracted all the time. If our distractions cause us to drive erratically, we should be arrested for driving erratically.
It is a personal issue for Spriggs; his son suffered a broken leg in an accident with a driver who was talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device.

Attorney Scott Reddie represented Spriggs. He said it's possible for the California attorney general's office to take Thursday's ruling to the California Supreme Court. Nicholas Pacilio, a spokesman for Attorney General Kamala Harris, said the office is reviewing the ruling.

Instead of that, though, California could simply rewrite the law to offer more coverage, and perhaps white-list instead of black-list, making talking on the phone with a hands-free device the only allowed behavior. Some, though, feel that even talking on the phone with a hands-free setup is too distracting.

Spriggs said:
They're (legislators) going to have to do something. I just hope they take a look at the big picture.

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