Drivers may use smartphones for maps: court

February 28, 2014
A California appeals court has tossed out a fine for a driver checking a smartphone map to escape traffic, offering a new interpretation in the crackdown on "distracted driving"

A California appeals court has tossed out a fine for a driver checking a smartphone map to escape traffic, offering a new interpretation in the crackdown on "distracted driving."

A panel of judges reasoned that the summons and its $165 fine applied to holding mobile phones to converse while driving and said nothing of looking at maps on screens for directions.

"We conclude that the statute means what it says—it prohibits a driver only from holding a wireless telephone while conversing on it," the appellate court said in a written ruling available online Friday.

"Consequently, we reverse his conviction."

The driver was sitting in congested traffic when a California Highway Patrol officer noticed him using his smartphone. In a subsequent appearance in court, both the officer and motorist testified he was using a smartphone map service.

The driver was found guilty and ordered to pay a fine, then appealed the case.

The ruling in the state that is home to Silicon Valley came as laws and informal codes of conduct are under pressure to adapt to lifestyles in which mobile devices let people be connected to the Internet almost anywhere.

Any potential precedent set by the ruling would be legally limited to California but has the potential to effect how traffic laws are shaped or interpreted in other parts of the country.

Explore further: Federal appeals court to review Texas abortion law

Related Stories

Judge's word on NSA program won't be the last

December 17, 2013

A federal judge is making headlines by declaring that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records is likely unconstitutional. But even he realizes his won't be the last word ...

Recommended for you

Android's Nougat update isn't flashy, but still pretty handy

September 28, 2016

Nougat, Google's latest update of its Android smartphone software, isn't particularly flashy; you might not even notice what's different about it at first. But it offers a number of practical time-saving features, plus a ...

Disabled man gets license, shows driverless tech's potential

September 28, 2016

Former Indy Racing League driver Sam Schmidt has done a lot in the 16 years since an accident left him paralyzed from the neck down. He runs a racing team and a foundation. He's raced a sailboat using his chin. But the man ...

Hyperloop pushes dream of low-cost futuristic transport

September 23, 2016

Is it a plane, is it a train? No, say supporters of Hyperloop, a futuristic mode of transport floated by Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk that promises high-tech, high-speed and cheap travel over long distances.

MIT's flea market specializes in rare, obscure electronics

September 25, 2016

Once a month in the summer, a small parking lot on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's campus transforms into a high-tech flea market known for its outlandish offerings. Tables overflow with antique radio equipment, ...

First test of driverless minibus in Paris Saturday

September 24, 2016

The French capital's transport authority will on Saturday carry out its first test of a driverless minibus, in the hope that regular routes for the hi-tech vehicles will be up and running within two years.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.