California Rules Use of Smartphones for GPS Purposes While Driving is Lawful

Update: Assembly Bill 1785 was signed into law by Governor Brown on September 26 which would limit even further the use of a smartphone while driving. On top of prohibiting the use of a cellphone to send or read text messages while behind the wheel, the bill will ban drivers from "holding and operating" a phone for any reason. This bill is an effort to counter the rising number of car accidents and related injuries in the state. The bill is to take effect on January 1st.

Read more on AB 1785 here.

Original blog:

In a recent appellate case in California, the Superior Court of Fresno County approved an appeal for a conviction against Steven R. Spriggs, who was issued a traffic ticket when a police officer saw him using his telephone. The argument made in defense of Spriggs was that he did not violate the statute as expressed in Vehicle Code section 23123.

The statute prohibits "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." The defense argued that this statement only applies to talking on the telephone, and is not ambiguous enough to include the use of telephones for GPS.

Ultimately Spriggs' appeal was granted and his conviction was overturned, which implies that drivers who use their phones for the purpose of GPS are not violating the law. To learn how this may affect you, specifically traffic tickets you have been issued for using your phone, contact our Santa Ana criminal attorneys today.