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California court says, Motorist can't use hand-held map

apple iphone 4 traffic jam distracted driving traffic court commissioner

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#1 Hum

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 15:35

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Steven Spriggs was stopped in a traffic jam near downtown Fresno and thought nothing of whipping out his iPhone 4 and clicking on the map feature to see if there was an alternate route around the construction mess.

He was startled when he looked up and saw a California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer ordering him to pull over. He showed the officer that he was looking at a map and not texting or talking.

"'Pull over,'" Spriggs recalled the officer as saying. "'It's in your hand.'"

A little more than a year later, Spriggs is at the heart of a novel court case that has technology blogs and social media sites buzzing about the $160 ticket plus court costs he was ordered to pay for "distracted driving."

A court commissioner and then a three-judge appellate panel of the Superior Court found Spriggs guilty of violating a California law that bans motorists from texting or conducting phone conversations with hand-held devices.

The judges rejected Spriggs' argument that they were expanding the law by refusing to toss out the ticket he got in January 2012.

Spriggs, who graduated from law school but is not a practicing attorney, represented himself before the commissioner and then the appeals panel. He initially brought a paper map to court to argue that it was legal to hold it while driving. Not persuaded, the traffic court commissioner found him guilty.

Next, he appealed to the three-judge panel of Fresno Superior Court, arguing in a legal brief that the iPhone has a flashlight feature and other functions that can be useful to a driver and aren't as dangerous as texting or talking. That hearing last all of 30 seconds because no one from the CHP or district attorney's office appeared to oppose the appeal by Spriggs.

He still lost.

Fresno County Judge Kent Hamlin, writing on March 21 for the three-judge panel upholding the commissioner's ruling, said "the primary evil sought to be avoided is the distraction the driver faces when using his or her hands to operate the phone. That distraction would be present whether the wireless telephone was being used as a telephone, a GPS navigator, a clock or a device for sending and receiving text messages and emails."

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#2 +Audien

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 15:42

Next, he appealed to the three-judge panel of Fresno Superior Court, arguing in a legal brief that the iPhone has a flashlight feature and other functions that can be useful to a driver and aren't as dangerous as texting or talking. That hearing last all of 30 seconds because no one from the CHP or district attorney's office appeared to oppose the appeal by Spriggs.



That isn't really a good argument. He should have hired a real attourney.

#3 HSoft

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 15:47

California, figures....

#4 +techbeck

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 15:56

He was stopped...if he was moving I can see him getting a ticket.

#5 +LogicalApex

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 15:57

Well obviously, how else would it be possible to enforce the texting while driving ban? Everyone would just say "I was using Google Maps!"

#6 OP Hum

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 15:58

What next -- I can't munch my french fries ... ? :p

#7 Charisma

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 16:04

So would he be in this much trouble if it were a paper map? That should have been his argument. Those are much more time-consuming and distracting to read since there isn't a big arrow telling you where you are and orienting itself properly and etc.

#8 +primortal

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 16:08

So would he be in this much trouble if it were a paper map? That should have been his argument. Those are much more time-consuming and distracting to read since there isn't a big arrow telling you where you are and orienting itself properly and etc.


From the article

Spriggs, who graduated from law school but is not a practicing attorney, represented himself before the commissioner and then the appeals panel. He initially brought a paper map to court to argue that it was legal to hold it while driving. Not persuaded, the traffic court commissioner found him guilty.



#9 HSoft

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 16:09

Well obviously, how else would it be possible to enforce the texting while driving ban? Everyone would just say "I was using Google Maps!"

Could check the phone to see time you last texted. Get info phone company etc. There are a few ways to check.

#10 exotoxic

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 16:12

Steven Spriggs was stopped in a traffic jam near downtown Fresno


California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer ordering him to pull over.


Does not compute.

If he was stood still then no problem. If He was moving and looking at it then its no different to texting or calling.

#11 threetonesun

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 16:22

Does not compute.

If he was stood still then no problem. If He was moving and looking at it then its no different to texting or calling.


So no one would mind if I read a book while sitting in traffic?

I'm glad he got a ticket, more people need them. Driving in the city lately has become a game of "green light, honk to get the first car moving because the driver is updating his Twitter feed".

#12 Torolol

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 16:34

perhaps google glass, with mApApps & voice command would be ok ?

#13 vetneufuse

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 16:38

I can be just as distracted remembering to turn my turn signals on, or turning headlights on or off.... or operating windshield wipers... should I pull over, stop my car, park it, turn it off then put my turn signal on? then start going again?

This is almost as stupid as how Pennsylvania wanted to write their distracted driving law that said anything that causes motion of the hands to be a distraction in a car..... well guess I cant steer then..... (this law obviously got no where)

#14 HawkMan

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 16:42

Pretty sure in most countries the driver isn't allowed to look at paper maps while driving either.

You're driving, your concentration should be on the road. Need to look at your phone, or GPS for any reason, pull over. A least with a mounted GPS you can glance, but our not supposed to stare at them either, you're supposed to use the voice guide.

#15 Dutchie64

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 16:42

A ticket for a good reason.
Using a phone while driving, even slowly, takes your attention of the road.

I had a accident a while ago while in traffic jam, as the woman behind me was texting she was going to be late. Yes she was, especially after filling in all the paperwork.....

Even the so-called 'hands-free' calls are a distraction, especially in busy traffic. If you need to make a phone call, get off the road temporarily. Not for your safety, but others too.
I like to get back home in one peace, and not being hit by a car because the driver is commenting on a funny Tweet.



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