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California Court Rules Using Maps on Your Phone While Driving is Legal

by Sean P. Aune | February 27, 2014February 27, 2014 8:00 pm PDT

Samsung Galaxy S4 VS Apple iPhone 5-Google Maps

Drivers in California can breath a sigh of relief as a court has ruled using a map on your smartphone while driving is perfectly legal.

California has some of the strictest distracted driving laws in the country, and you’re quite frankly better off just keeping your phone completely out of site while driving. But a man who was ticketed in Jan. 2012 for looking up a map on his iPhone 4 while at a stop light has fought the law, and – unlike the song – he has won.

Steven Spriggs was detoured due to word work, and while sitting at a stop light a California Highway Patrol officer spotted him looking at this phone. He pulled Spriggs over and issued him a ticket for $165.  Spriggs felt this was unjust and the case now wound its way up to the 5th District Court of Appeals in Fresno, Calif.

The ruling on the case was handed down today, and in their 18-page decision, the judges decided that the law preventing drivers from talking on their phones without benefit of a hands-free device was not written clearly enough and did not prohibit looking at maps. The law Spriggs was ticketed under specifically listed “listening and talking” on cellphones, but mentions nothing else.

While there are already separate laws for texting while driving, how will anyone receive a ticket for anything in regards to their cellphones now in the state of California? Short of holding the phone to your ear, by the time an officer pulls you over and walks up to your car, you could have easily switched over to a mapping app from texting or whatever other foolish thing you may have been doing.

Enjoy your freedom while it lasts as there is sure to be another law passed in the not too distant future to state that you can not hold your phone in your hand while operating a vehicle.


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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