In Fresno, the Court of Appeal of the State of California, in People v. Spriggs, states that it is not unlawful to use GPS, even if you are using your cell phone while driving! Read this and you can learn how to win your traffic case if you are cited for using your phone while driving.
In California, Vehicle Code section 23123(a) states: “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.”
A California Highway Patrol cited Spriggs in Fresno for looking at a map on his cellular phone while holding the telephone in his hand and driving. Like many drivers, he was not texting or talking on his phone, but he was cited anyway.
At the hearing, the Prosecutor argued that the statute clearly prohibits the act of using a wireless telephone while driving and using encompasses all uses of the telephone. The only way to use a phone is have hands-free listening and talking. Therefore, the law is violated when a driver holds a wireless telephone and looks at a map application while driving.
However, the Court of Appeal held that the statute only prohibits engaging in a conversation on a wireless telephone while driving and holding the telephone in one’s hand. The statue states the telephone must be used in a manner that allows for hands-free listening and talking. The statute does not state hand-free for anything else such as hand-free looking or operation. If it was to encompass all use then the statue would have read, “hands-free operation” or “hands-free use.”
If the People were to have it their way then all usage would be prohibited such as: looking at the time, using phone as paper weight, holding the telephone in one’s hand even if configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, or changing the play list from your phone if using the auxiliary cord. That is clearly not what the statute states.
If you are using your phone for anything other than communicating with someone, you may have a defense when the officer pulls you over and gives you a citation. In order to win your traffic case, you must be able to show you were not making a phone call or texting while driving.
Although it is extremely dangerous to drive while distracted, it is not illegal to use your phone while driving as long as you are not distracted and you do not carry on a conversation or engage in texting.
If you are being charged with using your phone and texting and you want to see if you can fight the charges against you, call our office or see our website to learn more about traffic defense. (559) 447-1240. We are experienced in defending traffic charges and we can help you keep you free of tickets on your driving record.
Special thanks for contributing Lino Ruiz.